- Each celebration, its offerings!
The Balinese life follows the rhythm of numerous celebrations. It is the perfect opportunity to be immersed in their culture. If you can, choose your traveling dates taking into account one or more celebrations. You won’t be disappointed!
The Balinese use two traditional calendars, distinct from the Gregorian calendar that we use:
- The main one is the Pawukon: one year counts 210 days only. The celebrations’ dates vary then every year in contrast with our calendar.
- The second calendar is Saka, which comes from the Indian system. Each month starts after the new moon, which leads to large ceremonies.
The main Balinese celebrations:
Odalan celebrates the coming of the gods on each anniversary of the foundation of the temple. It takes place every 210 days since the foundation of the temple (once per year of the Pawukon then). Thus, the date is different for each temple.
With over 20,000 temples in Bali, you have plenty of chances to attend Odalan.
Inhabitants wear the traditional clothing and women carry the offerings on their head to bring to the temple. Temples are decorated with countless flowers and offerings.
After the prayer, water is sprayed on the faithful and blessed rice is distributed. The faithful then apply it on their temples, the throat and the forehead.
Galungan and Kuningan
Galungan enlivens the whole island of Bali. It marks the beginning of the Pawukon year.
These festivities, which start with the actual Galungan day, last 10 days and come to an end with the Kuningan celebration.
Galungan celebrates the creation of the universe, the victory of the good, Dharma, against the evil, Adharma. It takes place in the familial temples where, according to the Balinese, the gods come down to earth and the ancestors’ souls pay a visit to their family.
Galungan is always celebrated on a Wednesday.
The celebration’s preparations start on the previous Monday, with the preparation of the cakes that will be used as offerings. On the Tuesday, men prepare the festive dinner (they kill pigs, to turn them into kebabs and blood sausages) and women prepare the offerings.
Men also make some « penjor », finely decorated bamboo trunks with corn cobs, plaited palm leaves, yellow or white fabric and young coconut shoots, which they position on the side of the roads and in front of each house.
Festivities come to an end with Kuningan, which celebrates purification. On that same day, the ancestors’ souls are leaving their family’s temple.
Find below the upcoming Galundan/Kuningan dates in Bali:
- January 4th, 2023 / January 14th, 2023
- August 2nd, 2023 / August 12th, 2023
- February 28th, 2024 / March 9th, 2024
Saraswati is a celebration dedicated to the goddess of knowledge. The children, who pray and bring offerings to the temple of their school, mainly celebrate it. The Balinese also pay homage to the goddess and books by sprinkling holy water.
Find below the upcoming Saraswati dates in Bali:
- October 22th, 2022
- May 20th, 2023
- December 16th, 2023
- July 13th, 2024
Pagerwesi is a festival dedicated to the spiritual strengthening and development of individuals’ forces against evil. On this occasion, the prayers and offerings aim at saving humanity, keeping evil away from men and ancestors.
Find below the upcoming Pagerwesi dates in Bali:
- October 26th, 2022
- May 24th, 2023
- December 20th, 2023
- July 17th, 2024
Every 35 days, the Balinese make offerings to items or valuable property:
- Music instruments, masks and outfits used during ceremonies (Tumpek Krulut),
- Pets and especially cattle (Tumpek Kandang),
- Puppets (Tupek Wayang),
- Iron objects such as cars, motorbikes, televisions, knives… (Tumpek Landep),
- And trees (Tumpek Uduh).
- Processions are common in Bali
Nyepi, is preceded by Melasti, which is celebrated throughout the whole island of Bali. It corresponds to the great purification. On this occasion, the Balinese go to the see or to a natural water source to purify their bodies and their sacred objects.
The day before Nyepi, the main road junctions receive large offerings supposed to exorcise evil spirits.
At night, great processions march through the streets carrying ogoh-ogog (paper-mache monsters, demons’ folk statues) representing the past year’s demons. Cymbals and firecrackers accompany the procession to frighten off evil spirits and the statues will be burned afterwards .
Nyepi is the Balinese New Year (of the Saka calendar). It takes place in March or April according on the Balinese calendar.
It corresponds to a day of silence, meditation, to refocus and liberate the minds from negative emotions. This silence is also aimed at convincing demons that the island is deserted, so that they will not come back to disturb its inhabitants.
During that day, it is strictly forbidden to anyone (Balinese and tourists) to go out on the streets, to set a fire or to turn the lights on, to work and even to entertain themselves for 24 hours starting from 6am. Even the airport is closed for the day (except for medical emergencies)!
Find below the upcoming Nyepi dates in Bali:
- March 22th, 2023 (year 1945 of Saka calendar)
- March 11th, 2024 (year 1946 of Saka calendar)