Galungan in Penglipuran village

Bali Hindu Celebrate Hari Raya Galungan

Galungan is a Balinese 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, when they return back. 

The date of Galungan is calculated according to the 210-day Balinese calendar. Galugan hiloday is related to Diwali, celebrated by Hindus in other parts of the world, which also celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma. Diwali, however, is held at the end of the year.

Galungan marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies. The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. 

The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjors - bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These are installed by the side of roads. A number of days around the Kuningan day have special names, and are marked by the organization of particular activities.

Dance of the Barong
During Galungan, a ceremony known as Ngelawang is performed in the villages. Ngelawang is an exorcism ceremony performed by a barong, a divine protector in the form of a mythical beast.

The barong is invited into houses as he makes his way through the village. His presence is meant to restore the balance of good and evil in a house. The residents of the house will pray before the dancing barong, who will afterward give a piece of his fur as a keepsake.

After the barong pays a visit, it is important to make an offering of a canang sari containing money.

A number of days around Galungan and Kuningan day have special names and are marked by the organization of particular activities. Galungan begins on the Wednesday of Dunggulan, the 11th week of the 210-day pawukon calendar. This means that there are often two celebrations each year (each approximately 7 months apart). All schools across Bali are closed for 2 weeks for the holidays.

3 days before – Penyekeban - Cooking of bananas for offerings
Families begin their preparations for Galungan. “Penyekeban” means “the day to cover up “, as this is the day when green bananas are covered up in huge clay pots to speed their ripening.

2 days before – Penyajaan - Making of jaja (fried rice cakes) for offerings
Marks a time of introspection for Balinese and a time to make the Balinese rice cakes known as jaja. These colored cakes, made of fried rice dough are used in offerings and eaten on Galungan.

1 day before – Penampahan - Sacrificing of pigs or chicken for feasts
The day before Galungan, pigs and chickens are blessed and ceremonially slaughtered to make food for Galungan including lawar, a kind of spicy salad and sate.

Galungan day - Praying at the temple
This is the climax of Galungan, the Balinese put on their finest traditional clothes to attend temple prayers with their families and bring offerings to share and enjoy after praying. It is a day to remind themselves of the long lineage of their ancestors and beautiful story they are a part of. The Balinese reconnect and renew their commitment to trying to make tomorrow a better day, trying to make themselves better each day. All the local temples are very crowded and colorful on Galungan, a beautiful time to observe the most fascinating part of Bali’s spiritual culture.

1 day after - Manis Galungan - Visiting family
This day is dedicated to spending time with family and visiting the extended family who may live in other parts of Bali. The roads are busy as many people are travelling and visiting sights together - i.e. going on a day trip together to the botanical gardens in Bedugul.

10 days after Galungan - Kuningan - Prayers, offerings - spirits return to heaven
After the Galungan period, the deceased spirits and ancestors leave their home and return. Hindu deities including Sang Hyang Widi, the Supreme God also visits to give blessings to all the people on earth.

 11 days after - Manis Kuningan – Fun
This is the day after Kuningan where people spend their time with family and loved ones, mostly in their hometown. There are no religious ceremonies during this day, yet you can see the festivities from people celebrating the rest of the holiday and time off with their friends and family.


Photo by: @andreasimanuell

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