Streets lined with charming, unique bamboo poles covered in palm fronds and traditionally dressed Indonesian women carrying offerings of tropical fruits and local flowers piled high on their heads are just a few of the visuals that will greet you when you visit Bali during Galungan. The religious festival, which celebrates Hindu faith, occurs every 210 days and begins this Wednesday 24th July, lasting until the 3rd of August. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil, as well as the spiritual return of the Balinese late ancestors, delivering an electric atmosphere of excitement amongst locals.
Holidaying on the island of the Gods over the period of Galungan can give you the opportunity to experience Balinese culture in a way that many other tourists haven’t had the chance too. You’ll undoubtedly come across the bamboo poles which are known as Penjor and are considered offerings that the locals have prepared in appreciation to the gods. These long beams can reach up to ten metres in height and longer Penjor’s represent more wealth. Hung at entrances to local business and houses they are erected on the first day of Galungan to offer thanks to the gods for the dominance of good (dharma) over evil (adharma).
This Wednesday 24th July 2019 marks the beginning – and main celebration – of the ten day Galungan festivities ending on the 3rd August 2019. With Galungan literally translating to victory in Balinese, those of Hindu faith gather with their family, devoting the day to thanking their gods for the prevalence of good through offerings and prayers. Ceremonies are carried out at temples island-wide, but tend to be more intimate and family orientated at local places of worship. If you’re interested in witnessing some authentic Balinese culture firsthand, head to one of the island’s largest temples, like Pura Luhur Uluwatu, located near Karma Kandara, but be sure to dress accordingly out of respect for the locals and their beliefs. You can also join the staff and local community at Karma Jimbaran as there is a beautiful temple inside the resort grounds.
Ten days later marks the official finish of the Hindu holy period, and is believed to be the day the deceased spirits and ancestors ascend back to heaven. On this final day of Galungan you may notice unique offerings of yellow rice, which represents the individual’s gratitude towards god for their life as well as the wealth, health and prosperity given.