Tabuh Rah: Blood Sacrifice
The great Tawur Kesanga, an extortion payment to the bhuta kala (personification of negative force) that is held a day before Nyepi (this year Nyepi falls on Monday 3/19/07) will not be complete without Tabuh Rah (spilling blood) ritual or cockfight as a matter of fact.
The word “tabuh rah” is derived from the word “tabuh” in this case means pouring a liquid on the ground for the bhuta kala. And “rah” means blood. Theoretically, a tabuh should consist of five different kinds of liquid but one only sees all five used in larger ceremony for bhuta kala (bhuta yadnya). They are
Tuak, palm wine
Arak, palm brandy
Brem, rice wine
Toya anyar, plain water
These five liquids symbolize the five liquids in the body: lymph, gastric juice, bile, serum and blood. Their use in a tabuh gives hope that the five liquids in the body, the micro cosmos, will be balanced with macro cosmos.
In performing a tabuh, the tuak (palm wine), the arak (palm brandy), the brem (rice wine), and toya anyar (plain water) are put in containers that maybe almost anything. The container maybe banana leaf folded into the shape of a crude ladle, called tapan, or a type of drinking bottle with extended next on one side, called caratan. This maybe made of clay or metal, it makes no difference. When there are no caratan or tapan around, clean glass or bottle will do.
For the blood there is no container, to spill blood on the ground a cockfight for ceremonial purpose (tabuh rah) must be held. The bleeding cock, loser of the fight, is just allowed to shed its blood on the ground.
The cockfight for ceremonial purpose (tabuh rah) in relation with the tawur kesanga ceremony is usually held near the venue of the ceremony. The law only allow three matches of cockfight in this tabuh rah ritual and no betting is allowed. The tabuh rah for the tawur kesanga ceremony usually begins in the morning and continue until mid afternoon, when the tawur kesanga ceremony is about to begin. When there is no police officer around, the legal three-match cockfight will expanse to eight or ten matches and of course no Balinese man can resist the temptation of betting.