Galungan is a sacred Balinese event which celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma – essentially the victory of good over evil.
It is a celebration that marks a time in the Balinese calendar when ancestral spirits of deceased relatives visit the Earth and after a ten-day celebration – the ceremony is closed on a day called Kuningan – the day on which our ancestral spirits ascend back to the spirit world.
This honouring of our ancestors, gods and deities is what makes the Balinese culture so unique and special. Many rituals are performed and offerings are given to welcome their ancestors.
If you have ever had the honour of being in Bali during this sacred time then you would have been very lucky to see the streets lined up with tall beautiful bamboo poles called ‘penjor’.
These bamboo beams are decorated with colourful ornaments and line the streets prior to Galungan celebrations.
It’s important to note that each Balinese family and each region have their own traditions including the Barong ‘Ngelawang’ performance or visiting specific ancestral temples that are connected to the family.
A beautiful and captivating ceremony known as Ngelawang is performed in every village during Galungan.
During the ceremony, a ritual is performed by the “Barong” – a revered symbol of divine protective power in the universe, expels evil and negative spirits.
The Barong is invited into homes and is meant to restore the balance between good and evil. Prayers from each household will be carried out prior to the Barong’s performances.
This festival not only honours the triumph of good over evil but encourages the Balinese to show love and gratitude to the spirit of their ancestors and to celebrate and honour the Hindu Deities creator of the universe – Ida Sang Hyang Widi.
The Balinese spend days prior to Galungan preparing intricate offerings and getting ready for the revered ceremony. Temples are decorated and clothed with the best fabrics and there is a general buzz in the air around the streets and markets of Bali. The Balinese will wear their finest Balinese attire and once they have finished praying in their home and ancestral temples you will likely see them sit for hours talking about the meaning of the day and eating and sharing food from their offerings.
To me, Galungan is one of my favourite times to be in Bali. In fact, I try to arrange that I visit my family in Bali when Galungan is on. If I can’t make it happen over Galaungan, my step Mum Dewi and I will check the Balinese calendar to coordinate my stay with another ceremony.
The Balinese Hindu Pawukon Calendar is a 210 calendar therefore Galungan occurs approximately every 7 Gregorian calendar months with a new date for each celebration. It’s truly a special time to be in Bali.
The upcoming Galungan and Kuningan holidays are:
2022 – Galungan June 8th – Kuningan June 18th
2023 – Galungan January 4th – Kuningan January 14th
2023 – Galungan August 2nd – Kuningan August 12th
2024 – Galungan February 28th – Kuningan March 9th