Galungan in Bali – The Story behind the Sacred Ritual

galungan in Bali

Bali Villas R Us is back with another episode of Galungan in Bali. In the last article, we have kept you updated with the sequences of Galungan and Kuningan in Bali. Isn’t it fascinating how strong their dedication is to follow the ceremony in utmost sincerity every 210-day? What if we tell you that they had ever left these two ceremonies out of practice long in ancient times? Yes, they sure had. Halloween season might have ended on October 31. Bali Villas R Us does not mean to creep you up, but something terrible indeed befell the past kings in Bali for the consequences of not observing the rituals. They all passed away at a very young age because of an unknown sickness.

Sit tight, buckle up, and listen to the story of Galungan in Bali in the following.

A quick peek of this story, in some way, relates to the foundation of Holy Spring Water Temple, Tirta Empul. Anyway, here we go.

So, What’s The Story behind Galungan in Bali?

Galungan is one of the most apparent holy days in Hindu aside from Nyepi or the day of complete silence in Bali. Things that make it visible are number one being the presence of penjor in almost every house installed in front of their entrance gate. Another thing is the shrines; they look very much presentable with special costumes. Lastly, of course, the Balinese Hindus are in their praying traditional costumes. The scenes that you would most likely see are whether they be looking very busy to place their offerings to their home shrines or they be on their way to temples nearby their houses to hold grand prayer with their family, relatives, and the local community. There will be crowds in the temples in Bali who are looking forward to celebrating Galungan.

There are also some who don’t quite know the background of why the ceremony is a must-do. We’ll begin with the root word of Galungan itself. It comes from the ancient Javanese that signifies to fight or to win. When Galungan was first celebrated? According to a palm-leaf manuscript Purana Bali Dwipa, Galungan in Bali was first performed on the full moon of sasih kapat, precisely on Wednesday Budha Kliwon Dungulan, Saka year 804 (please do note that to determine holy days in Bali, they use the Saka calendar system). It was around 882 BC.

The Legend of Galungan in Bali – the Story of Maya Denawa

Before Galungan was a thing, there was a legend about a Siva religious devotee in the form of a giant, Maya Denawa. Seeing his sincerity in doing yoga Samadhi, the God Siva appeared before him to grant his wish. This was how the giant gained the power that enabled him to transform as much as he liked it. However, he began to feel so proud of himself and used his power recklessly to hurt others in Bali. This made a wise priest by the name of Mpu Kulputih extremely worried. Then, he did a solemn yoga Samadhi to ask for guidance from God to take down the giant. The God, Siva came upon him. Then, Siva ordered God Indra, the God of War in Hinduism to help in the war against Maya Denawa.

On the penampahan day or on Tuesday, Anggara Wage wuku Dungulan, a war began between the Gods and the giant troop. Before the war sparked, unfortunately, the giant had known what was going to happen so even when the giant troop was losing, Maya Denawa figured out where the Gods were resting. At night, the giant carefully searched for the source of water to put toxins in it. God Indra, however, knew the trick and so he established a new spring water he named Tirta Empul to heal the poisoning.

The next day, God Indra fought off the giant until Maya Denawa was eventually dead on Wednesday, Budha Wage wuku Dungulan. His blood created a stream of the Petanu River in Bali. There is a 1000-year curse of the river at large. The rumor is it can grow the crops faster. But then at the harvesting time, the crops are going to have a terrible smell. This curse lasts 1000 years. The day of Maya Denawa’s death was celebrated as the victory of the Good over the Evil that we know now as Galungan in Bali.

The Time It Wasn’t Seen As Important Back Then

Since the Saka year 1103 on the reign of King Sri Ekajaya, Bali ignored the commemoration of Galungan. It was continued on the sovereignty of King Sri Dhanadi.

Until it was the time for King Sri Jayakasunup to rule on the Saka year 1126, he began to question why the former two kings died very suddenly at a young age. On an ancient palm-leaf manuscript of Sri Jaya Kasunu, it was revealed that King Sri Jaya Kasunu performed yoga Samadhi in the Dalem Puri Temple nearby the Besakih Temple. He then found out from the Sakthi (the essence of power from the Gods in form of Goddesses) of Siva, Goddess Dhurga, that they did not observe the Wednesday, Budha Kliwon Dungulan as how it used to be as a tradition. The Goddesses also revealed the importance of a dragon or a mountain symbol that represents prosperity and protection that the Balinese today manifest in form of penjor.

It denotes significant to hold purification to let off the negative aspects of evil beings in the human body and the environment on Penampahan before Galungan. There are three evil beings or Sang Kala Tiga that will try to lure humans into committing misdeeds (Adharma) in line with the processions of Galungan in Bali. The task for the Balinese Hindus now is to prevent the evil force from taking control over their life.

Do You Find This Story about Galungan in Bali Scary?

There are things outside of our rational world that we couldn’t comprehend, specifically if we’re talking about religions and traditions. For Balinese Hindus, the philosophy behind Galungan in Bali makes sense and means well for the sake of their safety. It’s beautiful and we love it; how the potent culture in Bali is something that not only you can see but also feel in your bones when you witness it live.  We couldn’t be more excited to have visitors curious about what makes Bali, Bali as we know it today; the island of paradise, the island of Gods, and many other names we might haven’t yet covered here. Don’t forget to explore our pages for Bali villas rental in the best locations you can ever imagine here.

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