On September 20, 2011, Bali will mark the 105th anniversary of the Puputan Badung.
Puputan, or a Balinese ritualistic fight to the death, once formed a cornerstone of Bali's Kings' ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their subjects; the absolute refusal to surrender in the face of a foe. With a literal meaning of 'ending' or 'finish,' it was incumbent on every Balinese King to display the necessary courage to die rather than be taken prisoner and be forced to leave his beloved island.
In a series of puputan between 1894 and 1908, hundreds of Balinese, led by their kings in Bali and Lombok, died in the face of advancing Dutch colonial forces.
On September 20, 1906, on the pretext that the people of Badung (modern day Denpasar) had looted a Chinese merchant ship that washed ashore on Sanur Beach 4 months earlier, Dutch troops marched into Denpasar ostensibly to arrest and punish Raja Gede Ngurah Denpasar at his palace.
Anticipating the Dutch assault and certain of the battle's eventual outcome, the Raja set fire to the palace and led his entire royal household and over 300 followers down the road for an ultimate confrontation with the Dutch. In an area known today as the Lapangan Puputan. The Balinese - men, women and children - armed largely only with traditional swords and spears met the Dutch invaders. The men, dressed splendidly in white cremation garments and ritual jewelry, and the women, in white cloaks and with their hair let down, stopped just meters in front of the heavily armed soldiers.
Against the ominously distracting and incessant beating of Balinese war drums, the incredulous foreign soldiers saw the Raja, carried by four men on a state palanquin, die instantly as one of his priests suddenly plunged a dagger into his heart. Sparking a frenzy of death, others in the Raja's entourage then began turning their weapons upon themselves and each other. Meanwhile, women mocked and scorned the foreign soldiers, throwing money and jewels in their faces, insisting the soldiers impale them. Panicked by the scene before them or, by some reports, the historically ubiquitous stray gunshots from "an unknown source," the Dutch forces then turned their rifles and artillery on the crowd - creating helter-skelter mounds of corpses; royalty on the bottom with, even in death, their subjects providing a protective layer on the top.
In keeping with the sordid but time-honored tradition of conquering hordes everywhere, the Dutch soldiers wasted little time stripping the jewels from the corpses of the Balinese and looting the palace ruins.
Later that same day in nearby Pemacutan, the grissly scene was repeated. The aging and frail co-ruler of Badung, Gusti Gede Ngurah Pemacutan, led hundreds of men, women and children onto the swords of waiting Dutch troops, failing which, the Balinse used swords to die at their own hands.
Remembering the Puputan Badung of 1906
To mark the historic Puputan Badung 1906 a Lomba Gerak Jalan or Street Marching Competition will be held on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
Marching units comprised of male and female groups of marchers drawn from the Armed Forces, youth organizations, university students, civil defense units, public servants, private sector employees, and high schools student are welcome to form marching teams to compete. A total of Rp. 375 million (US$8,88) in prizes will be awarded together with ceremonial sword trophies (“Keris Puputan”) to the best male and female marching units.
The march will start on September 6th at Candi Margarana in Tabanan and finishes at the Lapangan Badung in Denpaar.
For more information and to register before the August 25th deadline contact the Dinas Pendidikan Pemuda and Olahraga (Youth Education and Sports Service – Disdikpora) at ++62-(0)361-9009265 or ++62-(0)361-9009266. Facsimile ++62-(0)361-9009267 or the Disdipora-Denpasar office at Jalan Mawar No. 5 telephone ++62-(0)361-236151.
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