Ketupat and Ceremonies

ketupat.jpgIn Indonesia Ketupat is a type of dumpling and made from rice that has been wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch. After that it is boiled. The result being that the rice grains begin to expand filling the pouch and the rice eventually becomes compressed. This is how ketupat gets its form and texture as a rice dumpling.

During festive occasions Ketupat is traditionally served by Indonesians at open houses on festive occasions such as Idul Fitri and during ceremonies.

There are many varieties of ketupat. The two most common being ketupat nasi and ketupat pulut. Ketupat nasi is made from white rice and is wrapped in a square shape with coconut palm leaves while ketupat pulut is made from glutinous rice is usually wrapped in a triangular shape using the leaves of the fan palm.

What I didn’t know was that there are 80 different types of Ketupat used in ceremonies on the island of Bali. There is a blind man who lives in Singaraja that makes these Ketupat casings. Alit Kertaraharja has more on this:

During temple ceremonies, the Balinese make many different offerings to their Gods. One of the most popular types of offering is ketupat or rice cake steamed in a coconut leaf casing. Ketupat is relatively easy to make. But according to the 59-year-old Nynoman Wangi, who is blind, more than 80 different types of ketupat are used in Bali’s temple ceremonies.

Wangi, a resident of Asem Tenggeng in Singarapa, the capital of Buleleng regency, knows how to make many of the different types of ketupat. “From rubbing the casings, I know which type of ketupat I am holding,” Wangi said.

He said he had learned how to make the casings by bringing home discarded casings after ceremonies and copying the designs through touch.

Wangi has been working hard to improve his ketupat-making skills. He said it had taken him three days to master the art of making one type of ketupat.

“I got really angry with myself because I just couldn’t seem to get it right. But to be honest making ketupat can be a lot like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle.”

Despite the difficulties of making the casings, Wangi does not earn much.

A package consisting of 34 types of casing, for example, is sold for Rp 20,000 (US$2.20). “It takes two to three days to make it. The sad thing is there are customers who bargain the price down to only Rp 5,000,” Wangi said.

But Wangi said he was happy with what he had. “Complaining about money is demeaning.”