This November 26, the Balinese celebrate “Tumpek Kandang”, a day dedicated to Sang Hyang Rare Angon, the god of all cattle and livestock. On this day, domesticated animals on the island will receive great attention – it is a feat of colour for the eye!
The cows are washed in the river and dressed-up like human beings, with special cone-shaped spirals made of coconut leaf placed on their horns. The pigs are decorated, with their bellies wrapped with a white or yellow cloth. Prayer is, of course, offered to the gods for the welfare of these animals. Holy water and rice are sprinkled to the head of these animals at the end of the ceremony.
The Balinese consider animals as friends in life and, as living creatures created by God, are fellow brothers. Human life is heavily assisted by animals, especially in satisfying the needs of food, the labor force, religious ceremony and economy. For the sake of preservation and prosperity of such animals, the Balinese plead to God as the greatest source for their wellbeing. This means there is an awareness of owing ‘merits’ to the animals, since such creatures are the preservers of equilibrium within the ecosystem. Without animals on earth, the cycle of life no longer functions or exists.
If you would like to find out more about the 6 ‘Tumpek’ ceremonies here in Bali, and to understand further the intricacies of how they fit into the Balinese calendar, read this article by our historian contributor Jean Couteau: The Holy Day for Animals.