Galungan is an important festive time for Bali’s Hindu community and is essentially a three-day holiday that involves elaborate offerings and ceremonial rituals. This celebration happens every 210 days in accordance to the Balinese calendar and commemorates the victory of virtue over evil. It is a time for the Balinese to return home to their ancestral villages to pray and feast with extended family members.
Kuningan is Bali’s very own version of Ascension Day and marks the end of the Galungan holiday period. A ceremony usually takes place in the family temple before midday involving fruit, flowers and yellow rice. It is a time to bid farewell to the spirits of ancestors who have spent the past 10 days visiting the world of the living.
Nyepi Day, also known as the ‘Day of Silence’, is Balinese New Year. As one of the most important dates in the local calendar, every effort is made to observe the rules of this holiday. It is celebrated with a 24-hour period of solitude and all forms of activity on the island come to a complete standstill. The Balinese believe that the New Year is a time to appease the forces of the underworld and use this as an opportunity to cleanse the island of impurities.
Pagerwesi happens every 210 days, in line with the Balinese calendar system, and is an important religious holiday in the northern part of the island. The word ‘pagerwesi’ means ‘iron fence’, and the holiday signifies a time to contemplate the future and mentally strengthen oneself against the unexpected obstacles in life.
Tumpak Landep is a day to pay homage to metal heirlooms, such as the traditional daggers that were once part of the island’s warrior heritage. The daggers are brought out, cleaned with scented oil, wrapped in a clean cloth and blessed with offerings and a sprinkle of holy water. In modern times, Tumpak Landep includes other metal items that are essential to daily life such as cars, motorbikes and tools.
Saraswati Day honours education, knowledge, science, art and all forms of higher learning. Schools and universities around the island mark this occasion by placing offerings of flowers and fruit on books and computers. Students then gather for a session of communal prayers to express gratitude for past achievements and guidance for future academic endeavours.
Purnama or ‘Full Moon’ is part of the lunar cycle and comes around every month when the moon is at its fullest. The day is considered auspicious by the Balinese and a time to hold a temple ceremony or other kinds of religious celebration. Offerings of food, fruits and flowers are artfully arranged in wooden bowls or woven baskets, and brought to the temple to be blessed by a priest. Prayers are expressed using flower petals, sticks of incense and the sprinkling of holy water.
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