Held on the eve of Nyepi, the Hindu Day of Silence, Mesabatan api is a unique tradition from Pakraman Nagi village in Gianyar regency, 30 kilometers from Denpasar, Bali.
At sunset, 15 young men played gamelan instruments at a brisk tempo. Meanwhile, other youngsters standing opposite a field were burning dry coconut fibers, taking only five minutes to set the heap alight.
A gripping atmosphere prevailed as two main lights in the location were turned off.
“Inggih rarisan,” a man said in Balinese, sending dozens of bare-breasted young men with headdresses and checkered cloths scurrying and kicking the burning husks. So the Mesabatan api (battle of fire) ritual began.
Amid the chaos, two youths picked up pieces of blazing coconut husks with their bare hands. One of them threw the burning material at the other’s back, which was retaliated with a toss at the face. In the dark, the fire battle between the youths created an intriguing spectacle.
They were laughing and rejoicing in the ritual. “I’ve practiced this tradition since I attended senior high school. I feel no pain and heat during the battle, it’s just warm and exciting,” said Wayan Ekayana. The pain sets in the day after.
“We usually treat injuries with shredded turmeric and coconut oil, which helps them heal within three days,” he said.
Jasri village in Karangasem has a similar tradition called Ter-teran which is also held on pengerupukan, the eve of Nyepi.
On the same day, Bali’s Hindu community also organizes a parade of ogoh-ogoh (giant effigies), a manifestation of Bhuta Kala in fearsome form. The ogoh-ogoh are eventually burned to visualize the neutralization of negative forces.
After all the rituals, a new moment begins. When everything becomes quiet, the whole community is invited to enter the Day of Silence with brand new vigor as they hope to discover the true meaning of life for humanity and the entire universe.
Source :Coconut Bali
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