THE KETUPAT FIGHT

Photo: By Sakurai Midori - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4681736

Ketupat Fight (Perang Ketupat) is the ritual performed by the people of Pantai Kuning who dwell in the Western part of Bangka Island. This ritual is aimed to serve the spirits living on land with some ritual offerings.

According to the shamans, the spirits are of good behaviors, kind hearted and always keep Tempilang Village away from the evil Satan. That is why they should be specially treated, so they will always be the good friends of the villagers.

No one knows exactly when the ritual has come into the people’s lives. Judging from the folktale, the ritual has been known since the eruption of Krakatau volcano in the year 1883. Some say that this ritual has become popular since the days of the Portugal colonization. Obviously, such ritual has been handed down from generation to generation.

This ritual usually takes place for two days. On the first day, it is performed at nighttime where the traditional dances are shown to public. The ritual offerings are put on the doll house (penimbong) which is made of menangor wood.

The second day, the villagers perform Serimbang dance before Ketupat Fight. The land shaman and the sea shaman will whisper their magic spells in front of the forty pieces of ketupat. (Ketupat is the rice cake boiled in a rhombus-shaped packet of plaited young coconut leaves).

Then, all the ketupat are piled up on a pandanus mat. Twenty young men are requested to stand face to face in orderly manner. The young men on both sides will pick up the ketupat and throw at one another.

Whenever the situation creates an uproar, the shaman will blow the whistle to give the sign that the first round of ketupat fight is over. After a few moments, the second round starts with the same process.

The ketupat fight will be ended by performing Nganyot Perae ritual. That is the ritual to put the wooden toy ship in the water, which means the spirits will be on the journey to their own homes without bothering the people in Tempilang Village.

The popular traditional dances in this ritual are Campak, Serimpang, Kedidi, Seramo and Kamei dances. Besides, there are also some additional rituals such as Penimbongan, Ngancak, and Nganyot Perae. When four of the shamans spontaneously fall into a trance by turn, the visitors feel as if they were guided into the supernatural dimension.

The Ketupat Fight ritual is performed on Pasir Kuning beach in Tempilang Village of West Bangka Regency. The ritual is usually performed at the approach of fasting month (Ramadhan).

The distance from the main town of West Bangka Regency (Mentok) to the location is approximately 36 kilometers. Formerly, people went there by their own cars because public transport was inconvenient. The visitors should be careful as the road was full of holes. The dust rose in clouds along the roadsides when the weather was hot. As the road wasn't in good condition, it took 25 minutes to reach the location.

I don’t know whether it’s still free of charge to go in, but you can easily find the accommodation. When you’re hungry, it’s quite convenient to go to a restaurant or food stall in the village or around the beach.

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