What to Expect During Galungan and Kuningan in Bali

Galungan and Kuningan in Bali

Something special is happening this November for Hindu devotees in Bali. It is the day Balinese Hindus celebrate the victory of Dharma (the good) over Adharma (the evil). One of the signs is the appearance of penjor offering. Yes, penjor is an offering and not just a decoration. For foreigners and local tourists seeing a lot of Penjor bamboo pole offerings erected so high lining up the streets in every region in Bali as well as before the entrance gate of houses, commercial stores, and offices make such a unique experience. Galungan and Kuningan in Bali, however, don’t go together at the same time, there are the sequences.

You might be as well wondering why they be doing so much preparation for these rites and what it takes for them to succeed in these religious traditions. Let us explain the sequences of the sacred Galungan and Kuningan in Bali further through this post. Please note that you must prepare a Balinese Saka Calendar to determine the lines for holy days in Bali.

A Little Note on Balinese Saka Calendar

Besides adopting the Gregorian calendar, the Balinese also observe a Saka calendar system in determining holy days on the island. The Saka calendar is referencing the moon phases as the base in addition to the solar year (lunisolar calendar). It has 12 months in a year and a month in the Balinese calendar means 35 days. The Balinese calendar calls month specifically by the name sasih and date for pinanggal.

However, the application is very different from that of Gregorian’s. For instance, Nyepi marks the New Year celebration in Bali that befalls on pinanggal pisansasih Kedasa. It translates to the first day on the 10th of the month. If the 10th month in the Gregorian calendar is October, in Bali it could be around April. Meanwhile, the most used calendar system for New Year as the worldwide knew it will be on the edge of December 31st.

When Will Galungan and Kuningan in Bali Take Place? – The Holy Ceremonies Prior to the Due Date

What about the sequences for Galungan and Kuningan in Bali? Before carrying out the main ceremonies of Galungan and Kuningan in Bali, Balinese also hold a tradition specifically for the plants. They ask for God’s blessing in good crops to use the product as the primary source for the grand event in the next 35 days. Tumpek Pengatag, in this case, occurs on Saturday, Sanicara Kliwon wuku Wariga.

Next are Sugian Jawa and Sugian Bali. What do Sugian Jawa and Sugian Bali literally mean? Don’t confuse the naming for whether the rituals are meant for Javanese and the other for Balinese.

The root word for “Sugian” comes from the Balinese language “Sugi” which means to rinse, to cleanse. According to an old palm-leaf manuscript Sundarigama, Sugian is a procession we perform to cleanse the macrocosm (the universe) or Sugian Jawa.  The word Jawa is used because the conduct of cleansing in Sugian Jawa meant for the outer space. Sugian Bali, on the other hand, is a cleansing ritual for the microcosm in form of a human’s physical and spiritual body. Sugian Jawa falls 6 days before Galungan on Thursday, Wraspati wuku Sungsang (November 4, 2021). It is carried on by Sugian Bali that will be done in the next day on Friday, Sukra Kliwon wuku Sungsang (November 5, 2021)

You might question how exactly do Balinese cleanse the universe. Another question might be “does the cleansing of our physical, spiritual body include showering or what?” To cleanse the macrocosm, Balinese imply it by cleaning out and purifying the holy sites where they will pray to their Gods and Goddesses including each instrument within to succeed the observance of Sugian Bali. The ritual for Sugian Bali comprises melukat purification and yoga samadhi. Balinese Hindus will mostly come to the sources of holy water. There they rinse their body while solemnly praying and performing yoga to gain control over their mind. It is also a medium of communication between us to our Creator.

Penyajaan on Galungan and Kuningan in Bali 

There are two sequences that indicate we’re approaching Galungan and Kuningan in Bali. Those are penyajaan and penampahan. Let’s discuss penyajaan first. It happens on Monday, Soma Pon wuku Dungulan. There are two root words that derive the word penyajaan with different meanings as well. Those are “saja” and “jaja” In the Balinese dictionary, “saja” means sincerity. It is our quality of truthfulness, especially in being faithful to stay good and preventing our self as best as we can from committing evil deeds. While “jaja” with the prefix pe- and the suffix –an denotes the process of making snack offerings.

In practice, this is the momentum of when the Balinese Hindus would prepare penjor and snack offerings such as all kinds of rice cake, sticky rice, and others to be part of the offerings. Some make penjor starting this day or on penampahan. It is a bamboo pole decorated with ornaments from the crops like paddy, coconut, fruits, and other offerings. The curve in penjor takes after the mountain where all these crops come from. You’ll also find a bamboo shrine underneath it to place the offering on Galungan and Kuningan.

Penampahan on Galungan and Kuningan in Bali

On Tuesday, Anggara Wage wuku Dungulan, penampahan is due. The base for the word penampahan is “tampah” which signifies to execute, to kill. Symbolically, what they want to kill is their bestiality traits or negative aspects of attitude and characteristics resembling an animal. The belief that spreads on this day is the luring attempt from Sang Kala Tiga Wisesa or Sang Bhuta Amangkurat to mankind. The devil tempts men to do Adharma or wicked actions from Penampahan until the last of Manis Galungan.

On this occasion, Balinese Hindus would sacrifice pigs for the ritual offerings that will be presented for their Gods to help neutralize the negative forces from the devil. The offerings containing pig will be put on the ground before the entrance gate in the daylight while saying a prayer to God for safety and for the devil to return to his dwelling and put a stop in spreading havoc that will lead to Adharma. Before Galungan, the Balinese Hindus will assemble their shrines with special clothing and other ornaments. Also, they usually make food in large portions with the pig that can last to Manis Galungan or the day after Galungan. They will then share the food with their family members.

Galungan and Kuningan in Bali – The Peak Days

From early morning to sundown on Wednesday, Budha Kliwon wuku Dungulan (November 10, 2021), Balinese Hindus are super busy presenting their offerings to their home shrines and praying to their extended family’s shrines as well as in any grand temples in Bali.  The word Galungan in ancient Javanese indicates win or fight. The meaning of Dungulan also emphasizes win or victory. The commemoration for Galungan is every 210-day. This day marks the descent of Gods, Goddesses, and our ancestors down to the earth and to watch over the procession. After tiring themselves out from all the preparations for Galungan, they have a resting day on Manis Galungan where they will usually visit their relatives to share some of the crops they use in the offerings.

What’s the legend behind Galungan ceremony? How were we winning this war in the previous time that today we celebrate it in the form of Galungan? We will reveal it in our next post regarding the story of Galungan.

Kuningan falls on Saturday, Saniscara Kliwon wuku Kuningan. This takes about a 10-day distance from Galungan. There are several perspectives on the word Kuningan itself. From the color yellow to life protection, Kuningan also goes through similar sequences as Galungan. It also includes the execution of two processions penyajaan and penampahan to prepare the due date. However, the purpose for Kuningan in this case is to seek refuge and guidance from God and the ancestors. Another source believes that because in Galungan the Gods, Goddesses, and the ancestors have come down to the earth, Kuningan is their time to get back to heaven.  To perform the ritual, the Balinese Hindus will present offerings featuring yellow rice only until midday. Further than that, they believe that the high-level beings have left the ground.

It’s the Best Time to Witness the Ceremonies Live from Bali – Find Perfect Bali Villas for Rent Now

We figure that nothing beats watching and feeling the sacredness of a ritual than when it is being practiced live before you. Galungan and Kuningan are some of the gorgeous momentums for you avid cultural adventurers who long to view the unique ceremonies that only happen every 6 months in Bali. Whether or not you’re coming to Bali for the sake of Galungan and Kuningan, perhaps for exploring the hidden gems that have been the talk of Bali Villas R Us in many of our posts, don’t worry, we make it easier for you to find beautiful Bali villas in the prime locations nearby top tourist destinations. Check out our page here to see some beauties that our Bali villas management handles.

External Sources:

Ulasan Makna Hari Raya Galungan dan Kuningan by Ida Rsi Bhagawan Smerthi Kusuma Wijaya Sebali

Rentetan Hari Raya Galungan by  Ida Rsi Bhagawan Smerthi Kusuma Wijaya Sebali

 

 

 

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