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The Ritual of Med-Medan: Bali

The residents of the village Banjar Kaja in South Denpasar celebrate the unique ritual tradition of med-medan. Practices with roots clouded in the distant past, the members of Banjar Kaja always gather on the day immediately following Nyepi to engage in an activity where young boys and girls of that community gather on the local green; boys to the left, girls to the right, gradually advancing towards each other before breaking into a charge by both sexes culminating in an exchange kisses with the opposing gender. Tradition dictates that one charge of the lips brigade is seldom enough, mandating that relentless bussing occur in an area known locally as the kissing fields. Where med-medan started no one is sure. Where it ends is less a mystery; many married couples trace their “first contact” to a celebration of med-medan in years past. The proper and complete observance of the festival is mandatory for the youth of the Banjar who quickly abandon any residue of reticence in the face of stories of natural and personal disasters that have befallen those who failed to participate in the special ritual.

And, as with all special events in Bali, God’s blessing is always sought first via a solemn procession to the community temple before undertaking the important task ahead. When prayers are completed, the boys and girls then separate into two groups; there to pluck up their courage and pucker their lips for what follows. Concerned parents, perhaps playing a role that will be assumed by policemen in the future, bring buckets of holy water to cool off the romantic ardour of their children accidentally overcome by the moment.