Wearing traditional attire (sarongs, sash and udeng / headbands) without shirt, two young men stand face to face. With a bunch of prickly pandan leaves (pandanus amaryllifolius) in his right hand and a rattan shield in his left hand, they lurk each other look for chance to give deadly strike out. An older man— acted as a mediator or referee, stands in the middle among them, ready to give a sign when the battle must begin. Witnessed by many eyes and stomp of gamelan sounds are really get fighter adrenaline going. So when the sign of the game has begun, the two men begin to move, looking for the best time to land the spiked pandanus to the opponent’s body, meanwhile the rattan shield in their left hand is in full alert mode to chase away the opponent’s attack. The best scenario they wish is to confine opponent’s right hand movement and at the same time landing pandanus spike to the opponent’s back. If fighters are in a hugging position and injuring each other’s back, then the match is immediately stopped by Penengah (referee). The other 2 young men will come to the middle of the arena and do the next pandanus fight.
The duration of each pandanus fight is only about a minute, because the goal of this match is not about win – lose game, but as part of a religious ritual that has been going on for generations in Tenganan village. Before Mekare-kare ritual, all participants will walk around the village asking gods/ancestor spirit to protect them from negative power that may interfere during the ritual. This ritual is an reverence and dedicated to god Indra, the god of war and also to honoring their ancestor who was established the village.
Mekare-kare—often referred also as Mageret Pandan is part of Ngusaba Kapat or Sasih Sembah ceremony held once a year around June – July. In East Tenganan village, this procession lasts for 2 days and taking place in the village hall whereas in West Tenganan this ritual held ony in a day. The ritual begins at about 2 pm. Only young men of the village take part whilst young lady just witness the ritual and dress up with their Tenganan traditional attire which is well-known for Pegringsingan hand woven fabric.
After Mekare-kare ritual is completed, all participants will help each other to rub their back with traditional herbs made from turmeric. There is no resentment among them because they know the battle is not a personal match, it’s a kind of yadnya / offerings for the gods.
Tenganan village is about 55 km from Ubud. It take about 2 hours by car.
Tenganan village in District of Manggis, Karangasem Regency is about 55 km from Ubud. 2 hours drive by car.
Location of Tenganan village:
Check schedule of Mekare kare in Upcoming Religious ceremony box at homepage.