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Galungan and Kuningan Tradition in Bali

By 26/02/2024March 29th, 2024Blogs

Galungan and KuninganThe island of Bali has many wondrous cultural and religious celebrations, but two of the most significant are the back-to-back holidays of Galungan and Kuningan. Observed by the majority Hindu population in Bali every 210 days according to the Balinese Saka calendar and lasts for 10 Days, these festive occasions offer visitors an insightful and memorable experience.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GALUNGAN

Galungan is a 10-day celebration that symbolizes the victory of dharma over adharma (Good against Evil). During this holy time, the ancestral spirits are believed to return to earth to visit their living families. Elaborate offerings and blessings are made to welcome them. These offerings contained of Yellow Rice, Seeds, Fish, Fruits like Papaya  and Cucumber to show a symbol of human’s gratitude towards God for all the life, joy, wealth, health and prosperity given.

You’ll see beautiful bamboo penjor (poles) with offerings suspended at the end arches adorned with fruits and coconut leaves that are placed outside homes and temples in line with the streets. These act as a mystical vehicles for the spirits. Families gather in their finest traditional clothes (Kebaya), visiting temples for blessings. It’s a joyful time spent connecting with loved ones, both here and in the afterlife according to the Balinese Hindu philosophy. Barong and Rangda puppets are often seen on these Balinese Holiday, their dances and performance represents the struggle between the Good and Evil spirits.

THE END CELEBRATION OF GALUNGAN & KUNINGAN

The ceremony doesn’t stop there. Kuningan marks the end of Galungan after 10 Days, when the spirits are farewelled in a round of solemn ceremonies. The Day before the implementation of Kuningan, Hindus carry out Penampahan Kuningan the day before as a form of preparation to welcome Kuningan Day, Nampah or Penampahan means Execution or Slaughter. The preparation is done by slaughtering livestock and making offerings for Sembahyang (prayer) on Kuningan the next day.

THE MEANING OF GALUNGAN & KUNINGAN

Galungan is a holiday celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma. It marks the time when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth. The last day of the celebration is Kuningan, Kuningan is taken from the word Kuning which means Yellow. In the Balinese Tradition, Yellow is believed to be the color of prosperity. This particular meaning are interpreted to be a symbol of gratitude to Ida Sang Hyang Widhi (Balinese Hindu God) because he has bestowed his grace for prosperity in this world.

While Galungan is lively and boisterous, Kuningan is more calm and spiritual. Offerings are made in temples to ensure the spirits have a safe journey back to the afterlife. The festivies are marked by various rituals and parades, including Ngelawang – a ritual to expel evil negative spirit, and Gerebeg Mekotek – a parade to eliminate bad spirits. Temple anniversary festivals called Odalan are celebrated with great fanfare during Galungan Kuningan. This includes large feasts, traditional Balinese Dance performance and Gamelan Music.

Witnessing Galungan and Kuningan offers a lovely insight into the Balinese community. The deeply-rooted traditions around family and spirituality are on full display, tied together beautifully with beautifully arranged flowers, offerings, and smiles. Visitors are warmly welcomed to participate and embrace the positive energy as good prevails on these special days.

Barong and Kris Dance

WHAT WE SHOULD DO

As Visitors, we do not directly participate in traditional Balinese rituals. However, understanding their interconnectedness is the main key to experiencing the magic of Bali. Here, the divine, humans, and nature flows as one – each person contributes to the overall energy. Over time, we learned that opening up to the culture allows us to connect into something greater. Individual ego and identity fade within the community. The more we respect the local energy and culture, the more Bali may surprise and support us.

Wonders abound at each turn in the Mystical Bali, especially during festive seasons. If fortune brings you to thus enchanted isle for one of our holidays, fully embrace the ritual magic of these extraordinary days. Chat with the friendly locals, wander through charming villages adorned with decorative penjors, and take quiet moments to pay thoughtful tribute to loved ones departed. Honoring their spirits makes these celebratory occasions even more beautiful. Allow yourself to be swept up in the meaning of Bali’s rich traditions. Listen to the gentle echoes of Gamelan Music in the distance, from the colorful processions to the candlelit shrines along the beaches, holiday in Bali are truly a feast for the senses and soul.

If you’d like to experience a balinese cultural and spiritual journey you can also participate in Hindu Balinese water blessings regularly (Melukat) right at Sahana Villas, be a part of spiritual cleansing ritual aimed to achieve self-purification of both the body and soul.