Nyepi, Galungan & Kuningan - Bali's 3 Biggest Holidays
Article published in travelling BALI Vol. I
Learn about Bali's most important holidays
Nearly all festivals in Bali are related to the Balinese Pawukon-Calender which is different to other calendars by containing only 210 days. Most of the Balinese Festivals and Holidays depending on the Pawukon-Calender and moon phases are published by the Bali Government Tourism Office with the friendly advice of Dr. Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu.
To celebrate Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi, the local people stay silent, fast and meditate. They do not use electricity, drive cars or bikes and are not allowed to walk on the roads. Even the airport is closed. For tourists, Nyepi can be a peaceful time to mediate and rest your busy mind for twenty four hours. The Day of Silence is important and unique to the Balinese culture.
(The Evening before Nyepi - Ogoh-Ogoh Parade - Similar to street carnival)
If you are here on Nyepi, please try to follow the Balinese custom of keeping silent. If you are in a hotel and you can’t live without electricity, close the curtain and don’t show any signs of light. If you do not wish to fast, please shop the day prior to Nyepi for food and other necessities.
This important Hindu ceremony is celebrated every 210 days according to the Pawukon Calendar. Galungan lasts for ten days. During this period, the Balinese Gods visit the island. Before this big holiday, the island becomes very busy. The women create beautiful woven ‘banten’ which are offerings made from young coconuts. The men decorate bamboo poles, known as penjors, which adorn the streets of every Balinese village.
(Penjors symbolizing dragons)
Sometimes, the local people cook a whole pig and give it to families. In every village, the men cook lawar, a delicious food made from vegetables, spices, and pork. The day after Galungan, called Manis Galungan, is considered as quality time for family gatherings. Many Balinese people take this day off in order to visit their extended family. The ten days of Galungan celebrations give visitors an authentic idea of what religion means to Balinese people. It is a great time to visit Bali.
Balinese Hindus believe that ten days after Galungan Day their ancestors return to paradise after dwelling on earth for ten days. The Balinese thank the gods for their mercy and often celebrate this holiday by visiting each other and having fun. The most elaborate Kuningan ceremonies are at Sakenan Temple on Seragan Island, also known as Turtle Island.