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Ritual War Unites Indonesia Hindus, Muslims

Women carry the topat before the cakes are distributed to residents.

By OnIslam & Newspapers | 26 Dec 2011

CAIRO – Promoting tolerance and mutual understanding between Muslims and Hindus in West Lombok district in southern Indonesia, hundreds of people participated in centuries-old tradition of a so-called ritual war of topat that symbolizes brotherhood between the districts’ different faiths.

“It’s the world’s only war of brotherhood and tolerance that is waged without hatred and victims,” West Lombok regent Zaini Arony told The Jakarta Post on Monday, December 26.

Every year, Muslims and Hindus gather at the complex of Pura Lingsar, a historic temple in Lingsar village, West Lombok.

Participants from all ages, male and female, are separated into two groups, one in the yard of Pura Gaduh, a Hindu prayer house, and the other in the yard of Kemaliq, a sacred place for the ethnic Sasak Muslim community.

Getting the start sign at 5 pm, participants start perang topat, or the war of topat, by hurling boiled rice cakes in coconut leaves in a centuries-old tradition in Lingsar village.

When the fight is over, the remaining rice cakes are always taken home to be strewn over paddy fields for soil fertility or placed in shops for profit.

The Hindu-Muslim gathering is not limited to the hour-long event.

Two-days before the event, Hindus and Muslims slaughter two buffalos as a sacrifice which unites them in one banquet

“As cows are sacred in Hindu belief, and Muslims are forbidden to consume pigs, buffalos have been chosen. So all offerings in Pura Lingsar must only be chicken or buffalo meat,” said Suparman Taufik, chief of Kemaliq in Pura Lingsar.

“If violated, there could be grave consequences.”

The topat ritual was followed by a three-day reflection by both Hindus and Muslims in Pura Gaduh and Kemaliq.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim state with Muslims making up around 85 percent of its 237-million population.

According to CIA factbook, the country is home to a Hindu minority that represents 1.8% of its population.

Attractive District

Promoting harmony between local Muslims and Hindus, the event attracts tourists who find the district comfortable.

“India, with its Hindu majority, has the Taj Mahal as Muslim heritage and Indonesia with its Muslim majority has Borobudur and other temples, so there’s no reason for disharmony,” Arony said.

“This reflects the colors of culture,” he added.

This year, a lot of domestic and foreign tourists witnessed the ritual.

“Perhaps only in Lingsar can they find Hindu and Muslim celebrations held on the same date and in the same place, although we have different versions,” said Kemaliq chief executive Suparman Taufik.

Every year, the celebration falls on the 15th of the seventh month of the Sasak-Lombok calendar, called full moon of the 7th month, or the 15th of the sixth month of the Hindu-Bali calendar, known as full moon of the 6th month, which this year fell on Dec. 10.

On that day, Hindus also celebrated the anniversary of Pura Lingsar while Muslims commemorated the great services of Raden Mas Sumilir, an Islamic scholar from Demak, Central Java, who was in Lombok in the 15th century.

“Through generations, we’ve been practicing this tradition after bumper harvests, by which we express our deep gratitude to God and anticipate soil fertility in the current planting season,” said Sahyan, 36-years-old, a Lingsar resident managing the Kemaliq house.

“It’s also a means of strengthening relations with fellow Hindu villagers,” he added.



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