Visiting the Original Balinese at Tenganan Pegringsingan
Step into the Balinese past by visiting Tenganan Pegringsingan or Tenganan Village, which sits in the Karangasem Regency in east Bali. Tenganan is one of only a few villages of the Bali Aga people, considered the ancient Balinese who arrived before the Majapahit empire came into Bali in the 14th century.
The Bali Aga people are warm and welcoming, but still conservative in following tradition, which is how they have presently kept their culture intact alongside the booming tourist influence in Bali. Not many tourists visit Tenganan and you won’t find any hotels or resorts here — only local villagers are permitted to stay overnight.
Visiting Tenganan Village offers the unique experience of seeing the very rural and traditional lifestyle and setting of the original Balinese. Homes are built on either side of their main pathway which goes from north to south, starting from the south village entrance. You will see roaming dogs and cows, as well as cockfighting roosters in bamboo cages, as in old Balinese Hinduism belief, cockfighting expels evil spirits.
In Tenganan, travelers can come across rare sights such as the locally known Mekare-kare or Perang Pandan, a thirty-day ritual where male villagers enter friendly duels with rattan shields and thorny pandan leaves for weapons. Traditional Balinese and Indian lontars are made here, with images or words inscribed onto strips of palm leaves. The village is the only place in Indonesia where double ikat weaving is practiced, and they produce rare geringsingtextiles with centuries-old patterns using this technique. Geringsing can take up to five years to make, with a process containing many rules and rituals, and this textile is used ceremonially, with the belief that they have extraordinary magical qualities that can ward off dangers and impurities.
Getting to Tenganan Village takes an hour-long or more drive on your motorbike or private car from Sanur along the eastern coastal road, or only twenty minutes from Padang Bai. The Perama Shuttle Bus is a regular bus service that can take you from south Bali, Ubud, or Padang Bai to the town of Candidasa. From Candidasa, take an ojek to the village gates only ten minutes away.
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