Ngenteg Linggih

Several temples scatter the hillsides of the Tengger, but aside from visiting Poten during Kasada, I somehow have managed not to enter a single one. So after six months at site I decided it was time. I mentioned to Lilik and Dedik my plan and if they’d accompany me to explain things. They told me that it just so happened that a large ceremony was planned to be held the following weekend.

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The next Sunday we woke up early and walked up the many steps leading to the village temple hanging in the clouds. Pretty prime real estate if you ask me. Upon arrival I was soon swarmed by familiar ibus who, after offering me copious amounts of cake and tea which I’ve gotten quite adept at refusing, decided to play dress me up the buleh

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Unfortunately, despite how satisfied the ibus were with their minor fashion adjustments, a few individuals remained unimpressed with my newly acquired attire. Many Hindu holy men were visiting from out of town to aid in leading the event, and upon noticing me, made it quite clear I would not be granted access. They spoke English quite well and weren’t really rude about the matter, just informed me that I would have to return in a few hours following the ceremony if I wished to take a look around. Rejected entrance, I decided to wait in one of the entrance rooms, sipping tea while chit-chatting with the kepala desa (village head), who also didn’t take part in the ceremony as he is Muslim.

Five or ten minutes later, I was once again greeted by the holy men who had previously denied my access, behind them a large cluster of villagers. They sincerely apologized, explaining that they thought I was just another buleh; and that as I was part of the village I was more than welcome to take part in the ceremony. I entered the temple and remained there for about three hours, sitting with a group of friends and neighbors, mostly just wondering what was going on.

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Throughout the day, I kept asking those around me what the purpose of the ceremony was, and why was today so special? But no one seemed capable of supplying an answer. They’d mention the name of the event, Ngenteg Linggih, while rigorously pointing to the sky. When asked if it occurred every year on this date, most scoffed a bit, shaking their heads no and stressing the absurdity of such a question.

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Once home, I grilled my host family until they explained the meaning of the day. Apparently just once in the lifetime a temple, a ceremony called Ngenteg Linggih is held to bless the area, effectively branding it a holy place. Holy men gather from throughout the country joining the people of the village in pulling the energy from the universe and planets to give the temple its power. Despite the fact that the temple had been in existence for several years already, somehow the ceremony had never been conducted. So I guess waiting six months for this day to visit wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

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