Mekare-kare: Balinese Men’s
Pandan Battle to Honor The God of War
Surakarta, or commonly called Solo, is one of the most famous batik central in Indonesia. Two famous Batik villages in Solo that having long history of Batik, Laweyan Batik Village and Kauman Batik Village offer you a lot to admire.
Karangasem is one of the most touristic destinations in Bali which still preserved their ancestor’s traditions. One of the unique ceremonies found in Tenganan village, Karangasem, is Perang Pandan. Tenganan is also one of the oldest villages in Bali which is locally known as “Bali Aga”.
Perang Pandan (Pandan Battle) War Dance, or locally known as “mekare-kare” or “megeret pandan”, at Tenganan village is held annually at “Sasih Kalima” (fifth month of the Balinese/Caka calendar). It is carried out during the ceremony called “Ngusaba” at the yard of the village’s temple, dedicated to the god of war – Indra.
Tengananese men dress in traditional clothing with bare chest and headband (udeng), use thorny pandanus as their weapon for the battle and a rattan woven shield for protection. The duel is accompanied by gamelan music named Seloding, a musical instrument that should only be played by people who purified.
Mekare-kare is carried out by the youth of Tenganan village and also another youth outside the Tenganan village. The youth of the village acts as Pandan War participants, while youths from outside the village as a supporting participant. Though it is not an actual war, it does involve blood, but the spiritual aspect of the ritual causes no men to feel any serious pain, nor do they get infected by the wound resulting from the end of the ritual.
The ceremony begins after the praying ritual at the temple and continues with circling around the village and drinking traditional fermented drink called “tuak”.
After the battle ends, they smear the scratches and wounds with turmeric and vinegar traditional potion to each other and the ritual leader spreads holy water to them. No heart feeling among the fighters, and they all sit together to feast on banana leaves (megibung) and laugh together at the end.