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Important Balinese Festivals

One basic principle of Hindu belief is that the universe is structured - things do not happen randomly and it is essential that a balance must be maintained between order and disorder. Spirits are everywhere and ultimately control nature and as such these spirits must be worshipped regularly in order to maintain the balance. Rituals and festivals are the way the Balinese maintain this order. These festivals have great meaning and are the part of the essence of Balinese culture.

There are other festivals as well, instituted by the government or other organizations to maintain and preserve certain cultural aspects of Balinese life. The best example of this is the Bali Art Festival - held every year from mid-June through mid-July. If you are planning to visit Bali at about this time it is worth the extra effort to be in Bali on opening day. Never will you have an better opportunity to see Bali's glorious culture. Even if you are in Singapore or other part of the region it is well worth the trip. Below is a brief overview of some of Bali's more important holidays.

GALUNGAN : This is the most important Balinese holiday and symbolizes the victory of virtue (Dharma) over Evil (Adharma). The holiday is characterized by putting " Penjor " (tall Bamboo poles laboriously decorated with woven coconut leaves, cakes and flowers), on the right side of every house entrance. It is important for the Balinese to visit all their family temples on this day which sometimes requires a lot of driving around.

KUNINGAN : This holiday takes place ten days after Galungan, bringing the Balinese New Year holiday period to a close. Ceremonies are held for ancestral spirits.

NYEPI : Every society in the world should have the Nyepi holiday. This holiday is the Balinese New Year called Icaka New Year. It is a day of total silence throughout the island. No activity is whatsoever is allowed, no traffic at all on the roads, no fire may be lit, use of electricity is banned (except in the tourist hotels). Purification and sacrificial rites are held the day before - culminating at night with Ogoh-Ogoh dancing through the villages. The Ogoh-Ogoh are large demon images carried about the villages joined by all the men trying to make as much noise as possible. The idea is to wake up all the evil spirits on Bali then on Nyepi when the spirits return, Bali is absolutely quiet and the spirits, not able to find anyone, leave the island for good.

Please be advised that this page is updated monthly for the succeeding two months ie. for events in June please check back in May.

Bali Art Festival / Photo by Jo Rosarius

Balinese Religious Festivals

Festivals are an important feature of Balinese life. In general Temple festivals occur regularly on fixed dates according to the Balinese Calendar. That said, it is important to know that the Balinese calendar is only 210 days and as such the dates of these festivals rotate throughout the Roman calendar year.

As well there are annual cycle and every six month celebrations of holidays, life-cycle ceremonies of a Balinese from the time a child is conceived inside the motherís womb and continuing in stages up until the most important of the Balinese rituals - cremation after death.


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