Bali is not only famous for its beaches, but also for its culture. There are a lot of ceremonies, celebrations and festivals happen in Bali, meaning that the local really appreciate every aspect of their life. The festivals usually relate from birth to death. Some are very sacred and quiet, some are very festive and hugely crowded.
For tourists, this means another reason to visit or come back to Bali. There is always something new, different and exciting in every visit. By witnessing or being part of the festivals, it brings more Bali experience and maybe tempt you to stay longer.
Nyepi, day of silence
According to Balinese lunar calendar or Saka, Nyepi is the New Year’s day. This is the day when the island is given the break. On this day, mostly all activities are not allowed to happen. Businesses are closed, transport are not allowed on the road, even the airport is shut, no electricity, no fire, no sound, the island is in silent for wholly 24 hours.
Nyepi usually happen on March, so if you are planning to experience the silent day in Bali this is the right time. Introspection and spiritual cleansing is what you will get. As the celebration is famous worldwide, some hotel, villa or resort is offering Nyepi Package in one of their offers.
Galungan and Kuningan
When you happen to find penjor, traditional and religious sign made of bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end on some roads of Bali, then it is likely when Galungan and Kuningan happen. These are one of some important religious festivals in Bali, celebrated by the Hindu. The festival usually happen around 10 days in some locations in Bali. The dates will vary and is different from year to another because it is dependent on the Balinese calendar.
These festival is believed to be the celebration of good and the overcoming of bad. In the early days of festivals, the spirit of the ancestors are believed to return to earth. The offerings placed in the penjor is given as a kind gesture to the spirits, that is why you can find anywhere. At the end of the day of the festival, it is known as Kuningan you will find yellow rice as the offerings. In this time also, the spirits of ancestors are believed to return home, leaving the earth.
There are over 4500 temples in Bali, a place where ceremonies take place every day or on special occasions. Now, do you know that every temple anniversary is celebrated? The name of the celebration is Odalan. This celebration is usually last about 3 days, but some larger one can last until 11 days.
During the religious festival or ceremony, Balinese usually do rituals such as giving offerings, having performances of vocal music, dance and gamelan. This festival also happened coinciding with either new or full moon. Some rules are known for those who want to witness or be part of this festival, such as it is not allowed to one who have open wound, just given birth in the past 42 days, in a state of mourning in the past 42 days or bring food inside the temple.
According to the history, hundreds of years ago King Puri Oka was sick when some youngsters play Omed-omed outside his place. Omed-omed is when boys and girls pull randomly to each side. Suddenly, when the pulling game is on, boy and girl accidentally kissed. The king was angry and went outside his place. Magically when he was out, the sick was gone. Realizing it, the King then declared that the Omed-omed should be celebrated the day after Nyepi day or Balinese New Year.
Nowadays, this festival is known as the mass kissing festival where youngster around 17 to 30 participate. Usually, the festival is completed with pouring water as a sign of blessing. The festival is full of laughter and cheers. So much to enjoy! For tourists, you can only watch and enjoy this festival as it is prohibited to be part of the festival.
Saraswati is the day devoted to Saraswati, goddess of creativity and knowledge. You may recognize this goddess in statue of beautiful woman with 4 arms holding lontar ( a traditional musical instrument) and mala (a prayer beads). The statue is usually sitting in lotus flower (as the symbol of holiness) and or accompanied with swan (the symbol of line of good and evil).
This festival usually happens every 210 days in Balinese calendar. In this festival, you will usually find people wearing colorful and bright traditional clothes.
This is the festival Balinese do when they need to strengthen themselves against evil forces. Pagerwesi usually happen three or four day after Saraswati. In this festival, the rituals are quite same with Galungan. There will be prayers (in Pagerwesi, Balinese will pray to Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru), penjors on the road, family visits and delicious meals.
The name itself is pretty unique and meaningful. Pager is fence, wesi is iron, both combined have meaning a strong protection which is intended to protect from the evil force. This festival is indeed meant to make the mind and souls get stronger protection.
In every tenth full moon, there will be festivals held. It is Purnama Kedasa. To witness the best, you can go to Besakih, the mother temple. There, Betara Turun Kabeh will be held. It is the invitation rituals for the gods and ancestors to give their blessing.
On this day, locals usually make offerings which consist of food, fruit and flower. This offerings also accompanied with rituals like bathing in holy water and burning incense.
There are actually more festivals in Bali that we recommend you to know and witness in your days in Bali. Such as Tumpek Landep where the offerings of the festival are made of metal like motorcycles, Tumpek Kandang or the worship day to god of animals in which on this day animals like pigs are dressed and decorated with white cloth and fed with special food and sprinkled with rice and water.