Galungan and Kuningan Days
Date: 01 and 11 November 2017
The Balinese celebrate the day of Galungan, which commemorates the triumph of Dharma over Adharma, or good against evil, this November 1 to 2. Second, this observance comes twice a Gregorian year, as the Balinese use a 210-day calendar system known as the Pawukon that is the basis for their daily rituals, temple anniversaries and holidays.
What Happens and Where?
This year the Galungan festivity starts on a Tuesday on November 1, when bamboo poles decorated with young coconut leaf decorations line the streets all over Bali. This is a unique welcome to Bali if you happen to be on the island around this time, and usually lasts until Kuningan, another associated observance that comes 10 days after November 11. Traditionally, Galungan day sees the slaughtering of pigs for communal feasts, as well as baking traditional rice cakes and erecting iconic ‘penjor’ bamboo poles. These intricately decorated poles, naturally curved at the top, comprise harvest items such as rice, fruits, coconuts and coconut leaves. The men of the households erect their ‘artwork’ at each household gate on the eve, resulting in an impressive view throughout all village roads. Celebrants in traditional attire attend temple ceremonies with their families, bringing with them offerings of fruits to temples and family shrines – which they share and enjoy after prayers. The celebration climaxes on Wednesday, November 2, when people put on their finest clothes to visit family and temples. The day of Galungan is important for the Balinese, similar to a new year, when everyone returns to their families and home villages. The following Thursdays, Manis Galungan, like Boxing Day, is a day to visit friends and relatives or for fun family trips. Kuningan, on the other hand, marks the end of the 10-day festival. The ceremony surrounding Kuningan refers to special offerings made of yellow turmeric rice. Yellow is also the colour of the god Wisnu, the protector of the Hindu trinity. The Kuningan celebrations are most significant at Sakenan Temple on Serangan Island, southern Denpasar, which coincidentally celebrates its piodalan temple anniversary peak celebrations on the same day. The occasion features a series of sacred dance performances and rituals, with pilgrims attending from all over the island.
Batukaru Temple ‘Piodalan’ Anniversary
Date: 2 November 2017
Batukaru Temple, referred to by locals as Pura Luhur Batukaru, is one of Bali’s key temples, located at the foot of namesake Mount Batukaru. At an altitude of 2,270m above sea level on the second highest peak in Bali after Mount Agung, the temple is surrounded by cool natural forests, providing a pleasant sightseeing stopover for nature lovers. Moreover, the island’s most impressive expanse of rice paddies, Jatiluwih, is within a two-kilometre drive from the temple, making popular stopovers on excursions to Bali’s central highlands.
Date: 11 November 2017
Location: Munggu Village,
Mengwi district, Badung This age-old tradition coincides with the day of Kuningan and features the whole male villagers of Munggu joining in brandishing long stiff bamboo poles onto the streets. Over a thousand jovial participants and curious onlookers flock to the village streets, reenacting the triumphant battles of the Blambangan war. Each of the pole ends are combined in mid-air forming a dynamic pyramid where to friendly opponents climb up this mountain and face-off at the peak.
Kuningan Day and Sakenan Temple’s ‘Piodalan’ Anniversary
Date: 11 & 15 November 2017
Sakenan Temple or ‘Pura Sakenan’ as referred to by locals, is an important temple in the southern region of Bali, located on the north-western shore of Serangan, a small island located 10km south of Denpasar. Once strong for its unique feature of pilgrimages during the 210-day piodalan temple anniversary celebrations with processions leading to the Serangan Island on foot or by traditional wooden boats, reclamations in the 90s have changed the ways, as well as the natural landscape of the island.
Sakenan Temple was built in the tenth century by high priest Mpu Kuturan, who arrived in Bali in 1001AD before the fall of the Majapahit Kingdom, on a mission to restructure the socio-religious aspects of the Balinese communities. The temple is comprised of two significant areas, the largest having undergone renovation except for its antique walls around the temple grounds, and a smaller part that retains its olden features. The old temple was built of limestone and corals sourced from the surrounding coastal reefs. Within and around the temple grounds are large and towering trees that are silent witnesses of the temple’s past. Given the infusion of dynamism in Balinese Hinduism, these trees are adorned with chequered cloths and are regarded as dwellings of guardian spirits of the temple grounds. Hundreds of pilgrims from the various village temples in southern Denpasar flock to the Sakenan Temple for its 210-day piodalan temple anniversary celebrations which coincides with the holy day of Kuningan, 10 days after the Galungan Day celebrations, another major Balinese Hindu observation.
Tanah Lot Temple Ceremony
Date: 15 November 2017
Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s most important landmarks, famed for its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops. An ancient Hindu shrine perched on top of an outcrop amidst constantly crashing waves; Tanah Lot Temple is simply among Bali’s not-to-be-missed icons. The onshore site is dotted with smaller shrines alongside visitors’ leisure facilities that comprise restaurants, shops and a cultural park presenting regular dance performances. The temple is located in the Beraban village of the Tabanan regency, an approximate 20km northwest of Kuta, and is included on most tours to Bali’s western and central regions.