'Nyelung', an expression of gratitude

by Bram Setiawan on 2014-07-22

Fanfare:: The loud and dynamic melodies of a bleganjur percussion ensemble accompany the five-hour long march to the temple.Fanfare:: The loud and dynamic melodies of a bleganjur percussion ensemble accompany the five-hour long march to the temple.

The people of Buahan, a village in Payangan, Gianyar, welcomed this month with a joyful spirit. The harvest was quite good and the time had come for them to organize Nyelung, a religious festival held once a decade.

The peak of the festival fell on July 15, during which nearly all the villagers marched to the Pucak Pausan Temple on the northern side of the village. The temple, or the deities residing there, played a pivotal role in the creation of the Nyelung festival.

It is said that centuries ago the village was nearly destroyed by a long drought that triggered widespread famine. Furthermore, the remaining crops were totally consumed by merciless pests.

“Members of the local subak [traditional farming organization] then conducted a 10-kilometer pilgrimage to the temple and brought back holy water from it. They sprinkled the holy water onto the rice fields and plantations. Gradually, things got better, the plants thrived and the villagers were healthy,” temple priest Jero Mangku Wayan Mahardika said.

“Nyelung is derived from the words nyak [willing, to be] and luwung [good], so it actually means ‘to be good’, which refers to the village’s situation after receiving the holy water.”

To express their gratitude to the deities at Pucak Pausan Temple, the villagers constructed a large wooden box, which they filled with various agricultural produce. The box was beautifully decorated and escorted in fanfare during a five hour-long march to the temple.

The people circled the temple three times before entering the inner sanctum and presenting the box to the deities.

— Photos by Bram Setiawan

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