Usaba Kaulu: Asak Village Karangasem
Asak, Karangasem, January 7, 2011
It is definitely not for the faint hearted or animal lovers, the annually Usaba Kaulu ritual at Asak Village in Karangasem Regency is a blend of centuries-old ritual, dozens of boys armed with sharp special cleavers, adrenalin pumping music and a running cow and of course eager spectators. Usaba Kaulu is a kind of exorcism ritual to purify the village from negative influence and to bring peace and prosperity.
The Usaba Kaulu ritual usually starts around 9 AM with the arrival of the member of Asak’s youth organization in the temple, the boys are bare-chested, wearing red headdress and each armed with cleaver that is specially made and prepared for this ritual; the girls bring offering s, the youth then enter the temple (only the youth, priest and pecalang are allowed to enter the temple) and the priest officiate a preliminary ritual, after the preliminary ritual is finished, a cow that is tied outside the temple is decorated and dressed by the boys, after the dressing of the cow is over, the youth and the priests along with the cow walk around the village, after a round is complete the youth, the priests and the cow enter the temple for a prayer session.
After the prayer session the most anticipated part of the ceremony is finally arrived. The boys leave the temple premise and stand on the street in front of the temple brandishing their cleavers; they are waiting for the cow to be unleashed from the temple, the music switch to adrenalin-pumping beleganjur. As soon as the cow is unleashed, it starts running and the boys chase and try to strike it down with the cleavers. With dozens of boys chasing and striking it down, the cow will not last more than 5 minutes. There are prohibitions to cut the cow in the temple, banjar (hamlet) and village areas, those who strike it in these areas are fined. In bygone days the prohibitions were strictly observed and the chasing lasted for hours and the cow was killed outside the village. Nowadays it is struck as soon as it leaves the temple premise and killed inside the banjar area.
The cow is killed and divided on the spot where it is unable to run anymore due to the wounds. The head is used for the ceremony and the meat is distributed among the villagers.
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