Galungan and Kuningan

If you’ve been traveling around the island of Bali for the last days, you probably have seen the decoration on the streets. The bamboo poles with offerings you see near the roads are called penjor, and those are the most visible signs of the Balinese holiday.

It starts with Galungan. The habitants celebrate the victory of dharma over adharma, which means ‘the triumph of good over evil.’ This day marks the time when the ancestral spirits of deceased relatives visit the Earth. It is also the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies—the spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes. From the current inhabitants is expected that they have the responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings.

The last day of the celebration is called Kuningan, and on this date, the ancestral spirits return and leave earth. The date is calculated according to the 210-day Balinese calendar. Kuningan is ten days after Galungan, and the celebration has some days that have special names and are marked by the organization of particular activities. Galungan always begins on the Wednesday of Dunggulan, the 11th week of the 210-day Balinese calendar, which is February 19th this year.

So what do the days before and during Galungan and Kuningan look like?

Three days before

This day is called Penyekeban, and the people cook bananas for offerings. Families start with their preparations for Galungan. ‘Penyekeban’ means ‘the day to cover up,’ because this is the day that the ripening of green bananas is speeding up by covering them up in huge clay pots.

Two days before

This day is called Penyajaan, and on this day, the people make Jaja (fried rice cakes) for offerings. These cakes are all colored, made of fried rice dough, and are used in offerings and are eaten on Galungan.

One day before

This day is called Penampahan, and on this day before Galungan, pigs and chickens are blessed and ceremonially slaughtered to make food for Galungan, including lawar, a kind of spicy salad, and sate.

Galungan day

This day is the climax of the Galungan and dressed in the finest traditional clothes the Balinese attend temple prayers with their families. They bring offerings to share and enjoy after the praying. On this day, they remind themselves of the beautiful story they are part of and the long lineage of their ancestors. The local temples are all very colorful and crowded, everyone comes together, and every Balinese tries to make themselves better each day. They reconnect and renew their commitment to making every day a better one. It’s a beautiful opportunity to take a look at the Balinese culture and observe the fascinating part of Bali’s spiritual culture.

One day after

This day is called Manis Galungan, and it is dedicated to spending time with family and visit family that lives somewhere else on Bali. As many people are traveling on this day to their family, the roads are very busy with inhabitants trying to reach the other side of the island.

Ten days after

This day is called Kuningan, and on this day, the deceased spirits and ancestors leave their home and return. The supreme God, Sang Hyang Widi, visits to give blessings to all the people on earth.

11 days after

This day is called Manis Kuningan, and on this day, the people spend time with their family and loved ones. There are no ceremonies, but you can see that people are celebrating the rest of the holiday.

The people connect during these days with God, they eat good Balinese food, and they dress up in traditional clothes to visit the temples and see their families.

Some companies choose to close their doors for a couple of days and enjoy their time with their family and loved ones. Odysseys Surf School is open during this whole holiday, and we want to enjoy our time with you! You can take surf lessons at our Surf School and enjoy your time in the ocean.

Sources used for this article: