A Unique Ritual at Samuantiga Temple
A unique ritual at Samuantiga temple in Gianyar reminds the locals of the historic importance of the rustic temple, as well as the significance of peaceful dialogue in this conflict-ridden time.
In the 11th century, the temple was the site of a major congress, without which Bali would have never survived to be the island of peace, famous all over the world for its friendly people, open culture and religious tolerance.
The congress, organized by King Dharma Udayana and his influential wife, Queen Gunapriya Dharmapatni, saw representatives from competing sects of Hinduism sit together to find common ground. At that time, fierce competition between the sects had driven the island to the brink of a religious war. Under the wise counsel of Senapati Kuturan, the king’s chief advisor, the representatives agreed to literally merge their belief system into what is now known as Balinese Hinduism.
This spirit of peaceful dialogue reenacted annually on the last day of the temple’s anniversary festival through the ritualistic battle known as perang sampian.
The ritualistic battle was a full-day affair. It started early in the morning when dozens of women, in simple traditional costumes, and temple priests carried out nampyog, a repeated march encircling the inner and central courtyard of the spacious temple.
It was followed by ngombak, a ritual during which hundreds of male devotees descend upon the temple courtyard to form a human chain. This long human chain then simulates the movement of the waves as they run encircling the temple while making sure that they touch the corners of each and every shrine.
The peak of the ritual took place an hour after midday, when the men chased and hit each other with a sampian, a decorative shield made of coconut leaves. It was a battle filled with laughter instead of the screams of pain.Filed under: Travel & Culture