Tumpek Wayang or Shadow Puppet Festival
Tumpek Wayang is the Balinese shadow puppet festival. It starts at the annual celebration of the Tumpek Wayang ceremony and throughout the day, shadow puppet plays are given to locals and visitors alike. The ceremony itself is meant to showcase the artistry of shadow puppeteering and puppeteers also perform a purification rite called ruwatan.
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Tumpek Wayang falls every 210 on the Balinese Pawukon calendar, which is still confusing to me after 10 years in Bali! In 2016 Tumpek Wayang will be held on June 6th and December 31st.
Relevance in Hinduism
Tumpek Wayang is also relevant to those belonging to the Hindu faith because the date falls on the birthday of Lord Kala. In Hinduism, Tumpek Wayang is the mythological day that an improper coupling between Lord Shiva and the Goddess Uma occurred, resulting the birth of Lord Kala. That’s why Lord Kala is regarded as Salah Wetu or wrongly born. Any child who is born on the eve of Tumpek Wayang is also regarded as wrongly born in Hindu.
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Essentially, the story re-told by master puppeteers to honor the gods and to stop Lord Kala from preying on the children using intricately-designed leather puppets manipulated over candlelight.
Where to Watch Tumpek Wayang
Tumpek Wayang is typically held in small, intimate settings, like local temples, but anyone is welcomed to see. Ask around; drivers, local hotel staff and travel agents will be happy to find you a Tumpek Wayang ceremony to attend.
The Tumpek Wayang is typically held at various temples including the Pura Pedharman, Pura Bhatara Ratu Gede, Pura Bhatara Ratu Widyadari and Pura Bhatara Ratu Alit. Shadow puppetry or wayang kulit is highly anticipated because the epic play serves as entertainment among locals and tourists alike.
Catching a Performance if you aren’t around for the Shadow Puppet Festival
If you aren’t in Bali in June or December, don’t worry, there are other places you can see a Wayang show. Oka Kartini Bungalows and Minami Kerta Bungalows & Spa in Ubud both hold regular evening performances. You can also check at Setia Dharma House of Puppets and Masks for their performance schedule.