Hundreds of Muslim and Hindu residents engaged in the traditional Perang Topat or topat war at the Pura Lingsar Temple complex in Lingsar village, West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), on Tuesday.
The topat war has become a symbol of brotherhood and unity among residents of the different faiths. Topat, or ketupat, are parcels of rice cooked in coconut leaf.
An atmosphere of merriment filled the Pura Lingsar Temple complex on Tuesday afternoon, when hundreds of youths, men and women and even children were divided into two groups and positions, some of them at the Pura Gaduh Hindu Temple compound, while others gathered in front of the Kemaliq building, a place sacred to the indigenous Muslim Sasak community in Lombok.
After the whistle marking the commencement of hostilities was blown, both groups immediately attacked each other.
The atmosphere became more frenzied as they ran around to avoid topat being tossed at them by their opponents. They then returned to their positions to toss topat back at their rivals.
The tradition, which has been carried out for hundreds of years in Lingsar village, has strengthened ties among the Muslim and Hindu communities there.
The locals believe that the topat used in the war bring blessings.
“The tradition has been handed down by our ancestors. It is usually carried out after a good harvest, as an expression of thanks to God and with the hope that the coming planting season will be fertile. It also strengthens social ties with our Hindu friends,” Ramlan, 38, guardian of the Kemaliq building, told The Jakarta Post.
According to Ramlan, after the event, the remaining topat become a bone of contention and people will fight to bring them home.
They usually scatter the topat in their fields in the hope that their crops will be plentiful, or place them in their shops to boost business.
The Pura Lingsar complex is a temple built in 1759 during the era of Anak Agung Gede Ngurah, a descendant of the Karangasem king of Bali, who ruled parts of Lombok Island during the 17th century.
Pura Lingsar is located around 9 kilometers east of the NTB provincial capital Mataram.
The temple complex is unusual in that it is home to two buildings used by different faiths; the Pura Gaduh temple, a Hindu place of worship, and the Muslim Kemaliq building still used for a number of Sasak Muslim rituals.
The two buildings were built in a Balinese architectural style. The Pura Lingsar complex has been designated as a cultural heritage site by the government due to its uniqueness.
The community in Lingsar village always hold the ritualized topat war on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Sasak Lombok calendar, or the 15th day of the sixth month of the Balinese calendar.
This year, it fell on Tuesday (Dec. 17) precisely during a full moon. The topat war always commences at around 5 p.m.
On the day, members of the Hindu community celebrate the odalan, or the anniversary of the Pura Lingsar, by carrying out the Pujawali ritual to pay respect to Batara Gunung Rinjani, Batara Gunung Agung and Batara Lingsar, personifying God.
At the same time, members of the Muslim community hold an event to commemorate Raden Mas Sumulir, a Muslim cleric from Demak, Central Java, believed to have brought Islam to Lombok in the 15th century.
In the Pura Gaduh temple, Hindu followers, led by temple elders prepare offerings for Pujawali, while at Kemaliq, Sasak Muslims, prepare the kebon odek (small earth), or offerings in the form of various fruit and crops.
The item which cannot be left out, of course, is the topat made by members of both the Muslim and Hindu communities in the village.
The offerings are then paraded around the Kemaliq building accompanied by the playing of traditional musical instruments.
“Perhaps, this is the only event in which members of the Muslim and Hindu communities carry out their rituals at the same place and time simultaneously, although our versions are different,” said Lingsar village chief Muhammad Abdul Hadi.
The topat war has a spot on the NTB administration’s list of special events as part of its efforts to attract more tourists to the province.
On Tuesday, dozens of local tourists and foreigners swarmed the area to witness the unique event.
Besides the topat war, the visitors could also enjoy a number of other traditional performances.