October 13, 2020

The villagers of Kapal and Padang Luwih in the Badung Regency, carry out a unique tradition called “Perang Tipat Bantal” or “Tipat Bantal War” that dates back to 1337.

This tradition is carried out every year during the Sasih Kapat month, in September or October. This traditional ‘war’ is related to agricultural life and is intended as an expression of gratitude for the abundant harvest.

After a community prayer, a village priest sprinkles holy water and requests protection for all society and the participants who enact the tradition. Hundreds of men are divided into two groups and prepare to throw tipat (cooked rice wrapped in a diamond-shaped woven coconut leaf; representing feminine energy) and bantal (cooked rice wrapped in cylindrical form in coconut leaf, representing masculine energy). All the participants then start a massive food fight that lasts about 20 minutes.

The tipat-bantal war tradition is said to have begun with the arrival of Ki Kebo Iwa who came to the Kapal village on assignment from the King of Bali at the time Asta Sura Ratna Bhumi Banten, to repair the village Purusadha Temple. Kapal village was suffering a famine at the time which was overwhelming the villagers. Ki Kebo Iwa eventually invoked instruction from the Creator Hyang Pasupati during meditation at the Purusadha Temple. During the meditation, he received a revelation instructing the local residents to carry out what is now the tipat-bantal tradition. Both these types of rice offerings serve as symbols of the source of life – the absences of which had caused the famine.

This ritual has been routinely performed in front of Kapal Village’s temple, where the participants are divided into two groups. Each group is provided with tipat and bantal ‘weapons’, and after receiving instructing from village authorities, the two teams start throwing the rice patties at each other, accompanied by the sounds of gamelan music and the striking of the kulkul (traditional wooden percussion instrument).

The battle begins in the middle courtyard of the temple; then moves to the outer courtyard and finally onto the street with tipat or bantal thrown blindly by the participants in a trance like state. Many of the men engage in battle are shirtless, though they all wear customary clothing (headscarves, sarongs and slings/selempot). Although the rice patties should be thrown northward and southward, some of the participants will instead throw the tipat-bantal at those watching the spectacle. Despite being hit by the tipat-bantal, no one is ever injured and those who are struck tend to laugh about it.

The war ends with the ‘warriors’ shaking hands in forgiveness and everyone clearing the area of rice patty debris with many people taking home bits of the ‘shrapnel’ to disperse in the paddy fields.

Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that the Bali government may limit large gatherings this year. Please check ahead of time if you plan on travelling to specific areas.

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