The Balinese use two traditional calendars, distinct from the Gregorian calendar that we use:
- The main one is the Pawukon: one year counts 210 days only. The celebrations’ dates vary then every year in contrast with our calendar.
- The second calendar is Saka, which comes from the Indian system. Each month starts after the new moon, which leads to large ceremonies.
The main celebrations, which will be the opportunity for you to be immersed into the Balinese’ culture are the following:
Odalan celebrates the coming of the gods on each anniversary of the foundation of the temple. It takes place every 210 days since the foundation of the temple (once per year of the Pawukon then). Thus, the date is different for each temple.
With over 20,000 temples in Bali, you have plenty of chances to attend Odalan.
Inhabitants wear the traditional clothing and women carry the offerings on their head to bring to the temple. Temples are decorated with countless flowers and offerings.
After the prayer, water is sprayed on the faithful and blessed rice is distributed. The faithful then apply it on their temples, the throat and the forehead.
Galungan and Kuningan
Galungan enlivens the whole island of Bali. It marks the beginning of the Pawukon year.
These festivities, which start with the actual Galungan day, last 10 days and come to an end with the Kuningan celebration.
Galungan celebrates the creation of the universe, the victory of the good, Dharma, against the evil, Adharma. It takes place in the familial temples where, according to the Balinese, the gods come down to earth and the ancestors’ souls pay a visit to their family.
Galungan is always celebrated on a Wednesday.
The celebration’s preparations start on the previous Monday, with the preparation of the cakes that will be used as offerings. On the Tuesday, men prepare the festive dinner (they kill pigs, to turn them into kebabs and blood sausages) and women prepare the offerings.
Men also make some « penjor », finely decorated bamboo trunks with corn cobs, plaited palm leaves, yellow or white fabric and young coconut shoots, which they position on the side of the roads and in front of each house.
Festivities come to an end with Kuningan, which celebrates purification. On that same day, the ancestors’ souls are leaving their family’s temple.
Find below the upcoming Galundan/Kuningan dates in Bali:
- May 30th, 2018 / June 9th, 2018
- December 26th, 2018 / January 5th, 2019
- July 24th, 2019 / August 3rd, 2019
- February 19th, 2020 / February 29th, 2020
- September 16th, 2020 / September 26th, 2020
Saraswati is a celebration dedicated to the goddess of knowledge. The children, who pray and bring offerings to the temple of their school, mainly celebrate it. The Balinese also pay homage to the goddess and books by sprinkling holy water.
Find below the upcoming Saraswati dates in Bali:
- October 13th, 2018
- May 11th, 2019
- December 7th, 2019
- July 4th, 2020
Pagerwesi is a festival dedicated to the spiritual strengthening and development of individuals’ forces against evil. On this occasion, the prayers and offerings aim at saving humanity, keeping evil away from men and ancestors.
Find below the upcoming Pagerwesi dates in Bali:
- October 17th, 2018
- May 15th, 2019
- December 11th, 2019
- July 8th, 2020
Every 35 days, the Balinese make offerings to items or valuable property:
- Music instruments, masks and outfits used during ceremonies (Tumpek Krulut),
- Pets and especially cattle (Tumpek Kandang),
- Puppets (Tupek Wayang),
- Iron objects such as cars, motorbikes, televisions, knives… (Tumpek Landep),
- And trees (Tumpek Uduh).