in Bali we are on the eve of an important day. Tomorrow
(June 27th) is Galungan and most local people will be
heading back to their villages for a day to participate
in ceremonies with their families. Galungan is a Balinese
holiday that occurs every 210 days and lasts for 10 days.
Kuningan is the last day of the holiday. Galungan means
“When the Dharma is winning. ” During this
holiday the Balinese gods visit the Earth and leave on
once in every 210 days in the pawukon (Balinese cycle
of days), Galungan marks the beginning of the most important
recurring religious ceremony that is celebrated by all
Balinese. During the Galungan period the deified ancestors
of the family descend to their former homes. They must
be suitably entertained and welcomed, and prayers and
offerings must be made for them. Those families who have
ancestors that have not yet been cremated, but are still
buried in the village cemetery, must make offerings at
Although Galungan falls on a Wednesday, most Balinese
will begin their Galungan ‘holiday’ the day
before, where the family is seen to be busily preparing
offerings and cooking for the next day.
While the women of the household have been busy for days
before creating beautifully woven ‘banten‘
(offerings made from young coconut fronds), the men of
our village usually wake up well before dawn to join with
their neighbours to slaughter a pig unlucky enough to
be chosen to help celebrate this occasion. Then the finely
diced pork is mashed to a pulp with a grinding stone,
and molded onto sate sticks that have been already prepared
by whittling small sticks of bamboo. Chickens may also
be chosen from the collection of free-range chickens that
roam around the house compound.
combinations of various vegetables, herbs and spices are
also prepared by the men to make up a selection of ‘lawar‘
dishes. While much of this cooking is for use in the offerings
to be made at the family temple, by mid-morning, once
all the cooking is done, it is time for the first of a
series of satisfying feasts from what has been prepared.
the women continue to be kept busy with the preparations
of the many offerings to be made at the family temple
on the day of Galungan, the men also have another job
to do this day, once the cooking is finished. A long bamboo
pole, or ‘penjor‘, is made to decorate the
entrance to the family compound. By late Tuesday afternoon
all over Bali the visitor can see these decorative poles
creating a very festive atmosphere in the street.
Wednesday, the day of Galungan, one will find that most
Balinese will try to return to their own ancestral home
at some stage during the day, even if they work in another
part of the island. This is a very special day for families,
where offerings are made to God and to the family ancestors
who have come back to rest at this time in their family
temple. As well as the family temple, visits are made
to the village temple with offerings as well, and to the
homes of other families who may have helped the family
in some way over the past six months.
The day after Galungan is a time for a holiday, visiting
friends, maybe taking the opportunity to head for the
mountains for a picnic. Everyone is still seen to be in
their ‘Sunday best’ as they take to the streets
to enjoy the festive spirit that Galungan brings to Bali.
Tourists visiting Bali might spend a little extra time
admiring the temples and penjors that line every street.
Pura Sakenan, the temple on the island of Serangan, is
the site of one of the big ceremonies for Kuningan. Tourists
may visit as long as they were a sarong and sash.