celebration of tumpek kandang

Tumpek Kandang: The Holy Day for Animals

Tumpek Kandang is a Balinese Holiday dedicated to Sang Hyang Rare Angon, the god of all cattle and livestock. Household animals, such as pigs, cows, ducks, and birds deserve extra attention on this day. The name of Tumpek Kandang is derived from two words, “Tumpek” meaning Saturday and “Kandang”, the Balinese word for the household animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, and birds – all of which are highly valued by the Balinese. 

Cows in Bali receive better treatment than other animals because they assist farmers when plowing the rice field. The cows are washed and dressed-up in clothes fit for humans and special cone shaped spirals of coconut leaves are placed on their horns. On this day, pigs are usually decorated with a white cloth wrapping their bellies. The animals are then fed with special foods, sprinkled with rice and holy water and prayers are offered.

This ritual certainly is not an animal worship ritual, The Balinese consider animals as friends for life created by God as a living creature. Human life is much assisted by animals, especially in satisfying the needs of food, the labor force, religious ceremonies and the economy. For the sake of the preservation and prosperity of such animals, the Balinese plead for God as the Greatest Source.

celebration of tumpek kandang day

But before talking about the rites, a few words, boring but necessary, must first be said about the Balinese calendar system. There are two kinds of calendars in Bali: a 12-month lunar calendar and a 210-day ritual cycle, called the Pawukon. The pawukon year is divided into 30 weeks or wuku in the local language, each of which has its own name. The pawukon is itself divided into many shorter “week” cycles which run concurrently. Beside the 7-day “Babylonian” week, there are a 3-day week (Pasah, Beteng/ Tegeh, Kajeng), and a 5-day week (Umanis, Paing, Pon, Wage, Kliwon).

The conjunctions of the 5-day week and the 3-day week with the 7-day week determine most holy days. Thus each conjunction of the Saturday of the 7-day week with the Kliwon of the 5-day week will be a Tumpek, which will occur every thirty five days and 6 times in a full 210 –day Pawukon year. To each cycle of 210 days there will be an otonan or, for temples, an odalan anniversary.

Tumpek Kandang has additional meanings as a demonstration of evidence that the Balinese community is aware of animal welfare. This means there is an awareness of owing “merits” to the animal, since such creatures are the preservation and prosperity of the ecosystem. Without animals on earth, the life cycle does not work, and is even interrupted. Tumpek Kandang is not only about farm animals, it is often related to wildlife preservation. Such celebrations can be seen at zoos or wildlife preserves in Bali where the staff hold large ceremonies to honor the animals held in captivity.  At the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, although the monkeys are not in captivity, a ceremony is conducted praying for the safety and health of the monkeys because of the huge social and economic role the monkeys play for the main village in Ubud.

Overall, the deeper meaning of Tumpek Kandang is to remind people to keep in touch with nature and be grateful for the blessings that nature has provided. In that sense, Tumpek Kandang

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