Hinduism in Bali has numerous religious ceremonies held throughout the year, not only ceremonies and ‘yadnya’ (holy offerings) honouring God but also to holy teachers, mankind, animals and plants. The special ceremony to honour plants is known as Tumpek Uduh, a ritual that falls on Saniscara Kliwon Wariga, a day in which God gave grace to mankind in the world.
Tumpek Uduh, also known as Tumpek Wariga, Tumpek Bubuh or Tumpek Pengatag, is celebrated every 6 months on Saniscara (Saturday) Kliwon, Wuku Wariga, exactly 25 days before Galungan Day. The reason it is also called Tumpek Bubuh is that on that day, the Balinese serve ‘bubur sumsum’ (rice flour with coconut milk porridge) made of flour, while it is also called Tumpek Pengatag because the ceremonial worship of the plants is accompanied by the ‘ngatag’ procession, ‘menggetuk-getuk’ or tapping the stems of the plants that are being ceremoniously blessed.
The worship of Tumpek Uduh is an offering to the manifestation of God as Dewa Sangkara (Sanghyang Sangkara), the God of plants. This momentous occasion reminds humans of the importance of plants, and nature in the wider spectrum so that they become harmonious in our lives. Tumpek Uduh is a manifestation of the Balinese Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, the three causes of well-being, namely harmony with God, harmony among people and harmony with nature and the environment, which is why on the day of the Tumpuk Uduh, the Balinese Hindus are not allowed to cut down trees, event on their own accord, and are refrained from picking fruits, flowers and leaves.
The main purpose of the Tumpek Uduh ritual, to provide self-reflection for the community so that the natural environment is preserved as we humans cannot live without it. It’s a known fact that the universe holds many hidden powers that can be utilised for our basic needs, such as the assets of tropical trees and the many plants around us. When this is used appropriately, it will have a positive impact on our lives and make our lives more prosperous. When we utilise it inappropriately, however, it will prove detrimental and harm our lives.
Well-preserved plants and maintaining their existence properly will have positive impacts on humanity that not only affects the surrounding environment but also from an economic standpoint. We can all see tourists flocking to well-maintained natural destinations and experience their astounding beauty including Tegalalang and Jatiluwih, which are tourist attractions that help sustain the economical income of its local residents.
Moreover, people should always remember to remain grateful for the blessings of nature, which is why the Balinese Hindus make offerings and show gratitude towards plants on the day of Tumpek Unduh and remember the importance of plants around us and are obliged to care for them properly so that nature is not damaged and cause a disaster.
If we look at how amazing nature is and how it has been perfectly created by the Almighty to provide various kinds of basic human needs, it is up to explore and discover the abundance of resources that is right in front of our eyes and turn it into useful goods. When we’re sick, there are many kinds of plant forms with medicinal properties that can be used as herbal medicine. If you’re a tourist on a tour to Bali’s agro-tourism destinations or rice fields, you’ll see that many farmers carry out ‘yadnya’ (holy offerings) processions.
Humans are indeed dependent on the universe, which is why the Balinese Hindus highly appreciate and respect the universe and everything it provides. Therefore, in the religious beliefs of Hindus, commemorating Tumpek Uduh is a tribute to the universe, which has provided food for human consumption.
The most important meaning and essence of the Tumpek Uduh celebration is deep gratitude for the abundant natural wealth. All the worships and praises chanted by the priests, ‘pemangku’ or ceremonial leaders are full of the essence of gratitude towards nature.