Mekotek Tradition – Authentic Bali Ritual

Mekotek Tradition of Stick Fighting

Another unique Ceremony from the Balinese Culture in Incredible Indonesia.
During Kuningan Day in Bali prayers and offerings take place all over this stunning Indonesian Island and in Munggu Village a small hamlet which is well known for diligently continuing to keep Balinese Tradition alive and conserve Balinese culture we have the Mekotek Tradition of Stick Fighting.

warriors prepare with sticks for mekotek tradition
Warriors prepare with sticks for the Mekotek Tradition
The Mekotek Tradition is an unusual and unique Bali event or ritual which occurs solely in Munggu Village during Kuningan. Kuningan in Bali which takes place every 210 days on the Balinese Saka calendar is a great time to experience real Balinese Culture, a time to witness authentic Bali, colorful, unique, interesting, fun and so culturally rich it beggars belief!
Kuningan is well explained with some beautiful images in this post Kuningan in Bali
procession of balinese men with sticks for the Mekotek Tradition
Procession of Balinese men with sticks for the Mekotek Tradition
The Mekotek Tradition goes back a long why as do many Balinese cultural traditions. It is said Mekotek or Ngerebeg as it is known locally dates back to the time of the great King of Mengwi. The myth has it that the King wanted to venture further afield and extend his area of rule and power which would include the Blambangan Kingdom in Java. Being in Munggu at the time he decided to pray at the local Pura (Hindu Temple) of Pura Dalem Wisesa. After which he miraculously found himself in possession of a long iron spear and shield with which he could protect himself against danger during the upcoming crusade!
Needless to say the war campaign was successful and The King of Mengwi found himself back in Munggu Village on his victorious way home. He had made a vow after victory that he would create the Mekotek Tradition or ceremony called Ngerebeg which would mimic the victorious battle and would stand as remembrance to that rather fruitful and eventful day.
men with sticks make a pyramid at Mekotek
Men with sticks make a stick cone at Mekotek
Mekotek also known as Ngerebeg or Mekotekan actually started in 1934 in the village of Munggu and real spears were used at the time unlike the blunt ended wooden sticks that are used at present. It was in 1940 when these wooden sticks made of Pulet wood came into use in part due to the colonial Dutch being afraid of an uprising and having real, more dangerous spears used against them.
balinese men holding mekotek sticks aloft
Balinese men prepare for battle with Mekotek sticks

Mekotek Tradition and Stick Fighting Rules

During the Mekotek ritual or stick fight groups of traditionally dressed Balinese men from the South Bali village of Desa Munggu from around 12 different Banjars or small areas of the village come together with long sticks to form a cone. The battle of Mekotek sees two of these groups of opponents attempting to force down the opposition cone of sticks which usually results in people being crushed below the collapsed cone of sticks.
It’s as simple as that and all good harmless fun.
men crushed beneath Mekotek sticks
The battle ends with men crushed beneath Mekotek sticks
This unique Bali Tradition of Mekotekan is a ceremonial ritual and starts at the Pura Dalem Wisesa Temple in the village before men parade with sticks held aloft through the village to take part in the Mekotek tradition. Gamelan music playing throughout the ritual also adds to the atmosphere with Gamelan musicians following the proceedings along with many spectators and rival supporters.
From time to time a stick fighting participant will climb the triangular shaped cone of sticks to issue a battle cry before the two groups clash. It’s a fun event which rarely witnesses any injury or hard feelings amongst opposing forces or supporters and has more of a party atmosphere.
gamelan musicians play music during the mekotek tradition
Gamelan musicians play music at the Bali Mekotek Tradition
Finally when the event has finished the procession proceeds calmly with all participants and spectators and supporters parading to the opposite end of the village to another temple before ultimately disbanding. The Mekotek Tradition it is hoped will prevent catastrophes and bring prosperity and takes place on the holy Kuningan Day due to an unfortunate event in the past which brought disease to Munggu village resulting in death and crop failures.
villagers parading with processional flags at Mekotek
Villagers parading with processional flags at Mekotek
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