Tenganan’s Ferris Wheel

Annual Usaba Sambah Festival (a grand festival which is held in the fifth month of Tenganan’s traditional calendar) in Tenganan Pangrisingan village is not just offers the well-known adrenaline-rising ritual such as makare-karean (a duel using thorny pandanus leaves as weapons) but also a joyful ritual such as the “maayunan or ayunan” (swinging on ferris wheel) ritual.


The meayunan ritual is usually held annually as one of main rituals during the Usaba Sambah Festival. The Maayunan ritual is usually held on the 21st day of Usaba Sambah Festival that is usually last for 30 days. The ferris wheels that are used in this ritual are made completely of wood; these gigantic ferris wheels only erected during the Usaba Sambah Festival and after the festival is over they are dismantled and kept in the meeting hall.

The Meayunan ritual usually starts late in the afternoon around 5 PM and last for 2 hours. The ceremony is proceeded by symbolic duel using thorny pandanus leaves by the adult member of Tenganan community and communal feasting by the boys of Tenganan. The Maayunan begins when the Tenganan girls in their finest dress have gather in the Bale Patemu Kaja (the North Meeting Hall). A young boy usually be the first swinger who ride the ferris wheel the followed by the girls. Out of eight seats in one ferris wheel, only one seat is reserved for the boy other seats are occupied by the girls. The ferris wheel is put into action by two boys who worked with all their might to spin the ferris wheel. Sometimes they have to climb each of two pillars of the ferris wheel so they can operate the ferris wheel using their feet from a special place on the center of the ferris wheel. The swing on the feeris wheel usually last for twenty to thirty minute, after the girls and boy are finished swinging on the ferris wheel of Bale Patemu Kaja (the North Meeting Hall) they move to other ferris wheel in other meeting hall.

The philosophy behind this ferris wheel ritual according to Mangku Widya, elder of Tenganan Community, is balance and harmony. He said that life is like a ferris wheel there is time when we are reign supreme on the top and time when we fall to lowest position, life is like a wheel keep on going and turning and the state of balance is not a static position but the harmony of up and down in the course of life just like the ferris wheel.

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