Bali’s Hindu community is about to celebrate one of the biggest religious events on the island’s cultural calendar.
Galungan Day on 24th July 2019 will mark the beginning of a ten-day festival that essentially celebrates the universal struggle of righteousness over evil. Preparations will start a few days ahead of the actual event with the making of elaborate offerings. The ritual slaughtering of pigs will also ensure that there is plenty of festive food to share. Decorative bamboo poles known as penjor, which feature temporary shrines at the base, will be erected in the front of every home and business.
Galungan is a festive time when the Balinese return home to their ancestral villages to reconnect with their spiritual roots. Traditional rituals are performed to appease the gods as well as the forces of the unseen world. Celebrations involve praying together in the family temple followed by eating and generally catching up with distant relatives, friends and neighbours.
This religious holiday will draw to a close with Kuningan Day on 3rd August 2019. A special ceremony featuring symbolic offerings will be conducted before midday to honour defied ancestors. The word ‘kuning’ means yellow and the name of this occasion derives from the fact that the offerings contain rice that has been coloured yellow. Once again, this is a family orientated event to pray, reunite with loved ones and express gratitude for life’s many blessings.
From Galungan through until Kuningan, different areas around the island will carry out their own unique customs. In the village of Munggu, mekotek is a ritual whereby young men from the community create a tower out of long lengths of bamboo that someone gets to climb as a symbol of victory. During the same time frame, processions of Balinese children have fun during holidays by going from house to house for Ngelawang Barong. Wearing a mythical barong costume, they dance to traditional music (for a token fee) in the belief that they are helping to expel evil spirits.