"The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness."

Usabha Sambah: A ritual to honour the gods

Usabha Sambah is a festive period during which the Tengananese dress up in their brightest clothes, palm cakes and pigs are prepared for the feast, and virgin boys and girls parade in colourful costumes, dressed in double-ikat with protective powers, with intense, hypnotising gamelan music ringing into the jungled hills surrounding the village of Tenganan, Bali, Indonesia.

Among Tenganan people, mageret pandan is part of this month-full ceremony, a ritual to honour the gods, and especially Indra, the war god who instructed the Bali Aga to settle Tenganan. During this ceremony they also honour the ancestors. Perang pandan, a famous though bizarre ritualistic battle using pandan leaves as clubs, forms part of this ceremony.

One rainy afternoon in July of 2017, I had the honour to witness one of the procession rituals of this ceremony.