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Tumpek Bubuh. Protecting Our Food Resources

The symbiosis between humans and nature has been compared to that of the tiger and the jungle. The kind-hearted tiger protects the jungle from the bad guys whilst the dense jungle provides the tiger with a protective habitat and an abundance of food.

By that, through the ritual procession of Tumpek Bubuh, the Balinese ask for all of human kind in the world to protect the living environment, so that we will not lose that which supports our primary needs of food resources, clothing and shelter.

If you are now journeying in Bali, don’t be surprised if you see the Balinese serve offerings on the trees, or see the pemangku (ritual ceremony leader) guide the ceremony in the middle of the garden.

Almost every day, we hear stories about the destruction of the environment through the mass media. Public opinion, which supports law enforcement and sanctions against those who break conservation laws, also often appears in the media. The condition of the natural environment is not improving and is getting disturbed by the human acts that exploit natural resources without any confirmation.

For the Balinese, protecting the environment is a holy duty in applying the Hindu doctrine. People and the environment cannot be separated and always depend on each other. The concept of Tat Twam Asi (that was you), that humans are part of the living environment, means that the Balinese are careful to have a harmonious relationship with their environment.

The efforts of the Balinese in conserving the environment also includes real action through the ritual procession called tumpek bubuh, also known as tumpek pengarah, tumpek pengatag or tumpek wariga. This ritual is held in the morning, at the time when the sun rises in the east, and the Balinese quickly bring an offering to the back yard of the house or the places that are full of plants. In the wide yard, the offering is placed on an Asagan, an altar for the offering, made from bamboo. They bend a knee in front of the Asagan, the left hand holding incense that emits fragrant smoke and the right hand holding a flower. Then they start ngayaban, making an offering to Sang Hyang Widhi in his manifestation as Dewa Sangkara, the God who rules the plants. They sing the holy song and pray while splashing tirtha (holy water).

After serving the offering on the Asagan, they begin nguduh, another offering, in the form of bubuh (porridge) on the trees, beginning with the coconut trees. The coconut trunk or other trunk is ripped a little to place the porridge offering. They then devoutly sing the prayer in Balinese that sounds like talking with the trees. ‘Dadong-dadong, I Kaki nak kija? I Kaki ya jumah! Anak ngudiang jumah? I Kaki nak gelem. Gelem kenken? Gelem nged. Nah, ne bubuh bang I Kaki, nged, nged, nged!’ (Grandma, grandma, where is grandpa? Grandpa is at home! What is he doing at home? Grandpa is sick. What kind of sick? Nged (laden with fruit) sick! Well, give this porridge to Grandpa, nged, nged, nged). After finishing the prayer, the tree is then hit 3 times. The prayer is repeated when offering porridge on other trees.

This the way the Balinese do Tumpek Uduh or Tumpek Bubuh or Tumpek Pengatag. The offering of this day is in the form of porridge. For those who have a wide garden and a lot of productive plants, such as coconut, coffee and clove the offering is usually completed with babi guling, suckling pig. In Lontar Sundarigama is said that the ritual offering of tumpek bubuh contains ofPeras, Tulung, Sesayut, flour porridge and Tumpeng Agung, using suckling meat completed with snacks and fruits. Penyeneng Tetebus is the symbol of human hope for the plants, so that they can be fertile, have leaves, bear fruits, and produce a good crop.

The Tumpek Bubuh ritual is the beginning ceremony for preparing ourselves to commemorate Galungan day, piodalan jagat, the day for paying respect to the earth. In the Balinese calendar, the distance of tumpek bubuh from Galungan day is 35 days or one Balinese month. Tumpek bubuh, is a form of respecting and giving thanks God as sarwa tumbuh (all the plants that are important to human life). It also contains hope that God in his manifestation as Dewa Sangkara will always grant the gift of fertility, so that all plants will grow and produce fruit, like the prayer that is said while making the offerings. The word nged, nged, nged means laden with fruit, which means that the coconut tree or other producing plants will later be used as a medium for the Galungan ceremony and will fulfill our needs.

With the continuing fertility of plants the perpetuity of human life on Earth is guaranteed. All matter, organic life and humanity that exist in one environment have a mutual relationship and influence each other. Good ecosystems will guarantee human existence but if the ecosystem is destroyed, the living environment of the earth will disappear.  Because of this, the implementation of Tumpek bubuh nowadays encourages environmental conservation. TheMaha Resi­ or Holy Man in Bali for hundreds of years has given religious guidance to humankind in keeping a harmonious relationship with the environment.

The daily life of Balinese Hindus also takes into account the protection of the environment. Don’t be surprised, if one day in Bali, you find a big tree on the side of the street or in the yard that is decorated with kain poleng (black and white squared cloth) and given offerings. This is a reminder for you to always keep a harmonious relationship with the universe.

The island of Bali is rich, fertile, beautiful, and has an abundance of food. This continues to inspire Hindus despite the steady increase in construction work for hotels and other luxury. Bali, which is small, still has enough fertile agricultural land and space to take care of the ecosystem. If the environment of Bali is watched over well, then ‘Asing tinandur sarwa nadi, asing tinuku sarwa murah’ (What has been planted will prosper, all of the life’s needs will easily be obtained)

If now, you are travelling in Bali, it is best for you to go to an outlying village to watch the ritual of Tumpek Bubuh. This ritual will make you think about conserving nature and guarding the Earth for your children and grandchildren in the future.

Author: Ketut Sumadi

Publisher: Bali Travel Newspaper

NOTE: First time Published online in BLOG – Tri Hita Karana Products on date 15 Jan 2015. Author: Ketut Sumadi