He stood still. He looked at her – the master – swinging a bunch of leaves tied together in front of him.
“Is it a toy?” he wondered.
The master instructed him to stay put, which he did, patiently. The master put a white thread on his head, patting it gently. She also wrapped one around his hand. He looked at her one more time, asking if he is allowed to eat the offering – a block of crackers, a sweet bun and banana – that has been staring back at him all this time, teasing him. Master put away the incense on the offering, and he knew right away that it was his cue. He finished the offering in one sitting.
This is a view that some of us can see in Bali, last Saturday. Last Saturday was not just a Saturday for animals, it was their day. Balinese always have some unique way in expressing gratitude towards the universe and this is one of them.
Tumpek Kandang (Toom-perk Kahn-dung) falls every Saturday, Kliwon Wuku Uye (Balinese calendar calculation), which symbolizes a gratitude towards animals that have helped Balinese in their daily life. This was initially aimed at livestock because of their value, but nowadays the enlightened people of Bali take it to the next level. Pets deserve this ceremony too!
There are a set of ceremony and offerings made for the animals as a symbol of love and respect for their help toward human life. On this day, animals will get some offerings just like what people are doing with their temples. The offerings are purposed for Sang Hyang Pasupathi (Sung-Young Passhou-pathee) or Rare Angon (Ruh-ray Aang-on) who is a herdsman.
Balinese Hinduism teaches the harmonization of animals and environment, otherwise known as Tri Hita Karana (harmony with environment, harmony with God, and harmony with humans). Hinduism believes that there is God in every creature; therefore we need to respect everything in the universe. “Respect and love animals as they are the strength of universe” – Sarasamuscaya (holy manuscript)
With many sad stories about animals in Bali, and the worsened environment that comes with it, let this Tumpek Kandang be a slap on the face for us Balinese. To remind us that animals deserve our highest gratitude. A reminder for others too that Balinese tradition is not only about sacrifice and torture for animals. There are also sweet and humble traditions in between that we have to keep and cherish.
As I wave the leaves in front of him, I prayed may he live long and healthy, protecting our house and family.
“Is he happy?” I wondered.
I asked him to stay put, and he always did it well. I put a white thread on him, and wrapped another one around his paw. He looked at me confused, not sure what I was doing. He peeked on the offering in front of him – a block of crackers, a sweet bun and banana - waited for me to let him finish it. I nodded and put away the incense on the offering; he knew that it was his cue. He finished it fast. I laughed. I know that he is happy. I know that he is loved.
Video Credit: Putu Karmadita & GEDESANTO channel