Once every 210 days – Saniscara Kliwon Kuningan, the congregation of Pura Panti Banjar Timbrah at Paksabali Village in Klungkung Regency holds Dewa Masraman ritual. This elaborate ritual consists of many parts but the spectators who come to witness this ritual usually only see the part in which the deities are carried in palanquins by entranced bearers and the entranced bearers move as if there is a fight or collision between the palanquins. From this collision movement this ritual is also called Dewa Mepalu or the “fight of the deities” or “perang jempana” or “the battle of palanquins”.
Dewa Mesraman ritual starts early in the evening with megibung or “eating together” in which the congregation divided into children and adult group, each group eat the traditional Balinese food that are served by the priest and female members of congregation together. After megibung is over the deities are prepared for Dewa Masraman ritual, they are placed in a special place in the temple, given special offering by the Pemangku (temple priest).
After the deities effigies are installed in palanquins that are attached to bamboo stretchers in which the deities’ effigies are carried), they are paraded to the Pura Taman, a temple on the eastern side of Unda River in which the Pemangku (temple priest) asks for holy water. The palanquins with the deities inside them are placed inside the temple, given a set of offering and the pemangku (temple priest) asks for holy water, while the members of the clan take a bath in the river, in order to purify themselves before attending the battle of the palanquins.
After the holy water is obtained the deities’ effigies in palanquins are taken back to the temple. Arriving in the temple the deities’ effigies in palanquins are welcomed with Rejang dance by the young female members of the clan. After the welcoming dance is over the deities in palanquins are given a set of offering. This offering is used for placating the deities and asking their permission for holding “the battle of the deities” and asking their willingness to take a part in this ritual. After this placating ceremony is over, the the battle is on
The battle is held in the late afternoon and involves dozens of young men carrying the deities on palanquins. The palanquins are beautifully decorated with yellow and gold color cloths, flower and leaves. A dozen of young men carry each palanquins, the bearers are going into trance, running around the temple ground, chasing and crashing each other palanquins. This activity is accompanied by the high spirited Gamelan orchestra makes this battle goes more and more violent. Sometimes a certain people from a huge crowd of onlookers which gather on the temple ground fall into a collective trance, adds a new color to this amazing ceremony. After several hours of fighting the battle is stopped by sprinkling holy water to the entranced bearers and the deities’ effigies are taken out from palanquins and once again installed on their special place in the temple complex and Dewa Mesraman ritual is over.
Dewa Mesraman ritual is similar with Usaba Gumang ritual that is held in Gumang Hill Temple in Karangasem Regency. Unfortunately there is no ancient scripture that mentions the connection of both rituals.