OK, so maybe the English name for Perang Topat – “Rice Cake War” – isn’t exactly accurate: Think a giant food fight where the only ammunition is cooked rice wrapped in coconut leaves. That’s exactly what Perang Topat is all about – instead of an actual war, it’s a fun celebration of religious peace and harmony between the Hindus and Muslims of Lombok, east of Bali in Indonesia.
The big event is centered at the Pura Lingsar, a temple built by Hindus in the 18th century, and it takes a couple weeks to prepare for, including prayer rituals and offerings of fruit and cakes for good fortune. Once the date of Perang Topat arrives (and this year, that day is today!), the Sasak Wektu Telu community and the Hindus come together at the temple, which also contains the Muslim shrine of Kemaliq – so it’s both neutral ground and a split between the two religions.
Once everyone has gathered, the two groups divide up between different sides of the temple and perform a Pujawali ritual together to honour the temple’s anniversary (it was built in 1714) and give thanks for the season’s harvest. The next stage is called Rorok Kembang Waru, which refers to the wilting of the waru flowers. They bloom and die in a day, and when the first waru flower falls to the ground, the two groups cheerfully pelt each other with ketupat, sticky rice in coconut leaves. Mmmmmm, edible ammo.
Lest you think this is a waste of food, the leftovers are distributed among participants and spectators, with the rest being buried in the fields to help nourish next year’s harvest. At the end of the day, Perang Topat is a most delicious way to foster peace and harmony between two religions – something many other nations in the world could take note of. Take it from us, if there’s anywhere in the world that’s the headquarters of peace and tranquility, Bali is it. Why don’t you visit Bali and check it out for yourself? (Just be sure to pack an umbrella in case of any unforeseen showers of rice cakes.)