A Month of Ceremonies In Tenganan

The village street of Tenganan Pegeringsingan.

Tenganan Pegeringsingan is a well known village in Bali, best known for the famous double-ikat geringsing textiles. Every year from mid-June there is a full month of ceremonies called Ngusaba Sambah during which the women and men of the village are often dressed in their finest traditional costumes.

Tenganan does not have the three temples, dedicated to Brahma, Wisnu and Shiva, that are found in other Balinese villages. Most ceremonies are performed on three longBale Patemu or pavilions located along the center of themain village street in the north, center and south of the community. Only people from Tenganan may sit on the Bale Petemu and they must be wearing traditional dress.

One of the three Bale Petemu located along the main street of Tenganan.

A young male initiate dressed in full traditional dress and carrying the family kris.

After puberty, young people spend the months prior to the ceremonial month in seclusion. All the boys are fostered to one household, all the girls to another, and they are taught about the community’s culture and philosphy. When they come out of seclusion they undergo a ceremony called Menek Daha and wear full traditional dress including geringsing cloths that can only be woven by Tenganan women.

Each year a young women who has just had her first menstruation is chosen as the Daha Ngastiti. She is dressed in geringsing and wears golden flower ornaments in their hair. The Ngastiti is considered holy and may only be touched with respect as she is considered close to the Divine.

Daha Ngastiti dressed in her geringsing finery with gold hair ornamentations.

Young women and the Daha Ngastiti (lower, back, right on the wheel) ride the ferris wheel as it is turned by the young men in the village.

The ceremony of Ngastiti always involves the three village ferris wheels. Seven young girls ride each ferris wheel with the Daha Ngastiti to symbolize the cycles of life with its highs and lows, and the need to learn to live well within these cycles. This is how a young woman or man learns to live as an adult.

For tourists, the most popular part of the ceremonial month is the Mekare Kare or the battles using pandanus leaves. This ritual honors the primary deity of Tenganan, the God Indra who is the good of war. The weapons used are bundles of thorny pandanus leaves. Men and boys alike display their bravery by beating each other about the torso using a basketry shield as protection.

The Mekare kare or ritual war honors the God Indr.

Young women in their geringsing stand watching the Mekare kare and give encouragement.

From the central Bale Patemu, young women watch the battles and give encouragement to the men.

Following the Mekare kare the gongs of the community Pande temple are rung for the people to gather and begin the ritual Rejang dance which is performed for the gods.

The Rejang dance is performed to honor the gods.