Holidays in Bali

holidays in baliBali’s Hindu population celebrates several holidays throughout the year. Visitors to Villa Tirta Indah enjoy special privileges to visit the adjacent temple and observe these traditional ceremonies firsthand.

Nyepi

Nyepi is a Balinese-Hindu celebration to welcome the new year (according to the Hindu calendar). It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation, and introspection, during which Hindus meditate on humanity, love, patience, and kindness.  On Nyepi Day, normal daily activities are suspended, travel is forbidden, and all air and seaports are closed. The days before and after Nyepi are also important.

Pengrupukan

The day before Nyepi, Pengrupukan, is when Hindus perform ceremonies to neutralize evil forces so they are no longer a disturbance, but instead become a positive force for the good of humankind.

The villagers hold a procession with fire torches, kulkul (traditional bamboo bells), and a giant effigy made of bamboo and cement sacks called Ogoh-Ogoh, who represents evil forces. Before the procession, evil spirits are invited to occupy the Ogoh-Ogoh and after the procession another ceremony is held to neutralize the spirits by burning the Ogoh-Ogoh.

Ngembak Geni

The day after Nyepi, Ngembak Geni, is a day of forgiveness. Hindus visit each other to express forgiveness, and to read and sing from ancient texts.

Galungan

Galungan Day is celebrated every 210 days on a Wednesday, with a day of prayer at the temples. Galungan literally means the victory of good over evil, and on Galungan it is believed that the Balinese god Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa visits the earth, along with the deified ancestors of the family. It marks the beginning of the most important Balinese Hindu religious ceremonies.

Penampahan

The day before Galungan Day, Penampahan Day, is a day of preparation and decoration. The women prepare offerings, and the men prepare special foods, including chicken and pigs for the offerings. Penjor, bamboo poles decorated with coconut leaves, rice and fruits, which symbolize the mountain, holiness, fertility and prosperity, are installed on every main entry gate and temple as a sign of gratitude to God.

Odalan (Temple Birthday Ceremony)

The Odalan (or temple festival) also happens every 210 days, on the anniversary of when a temple was built (according to the lunar calendar). With over 20,000 temples on Bali, this is a frequent celebration.

During Odalan, spirits descend from heaven and are entertained for three days with food, prayers, dances, cock fights, and other social activities. A Balinese orchestra (gamelan) often escorts a procession to the temple.

Ngaben (Cremation Ceremony)

Hindu funerals in Bali are big, dramatic, colorful, noisy events. It often takes so long to organize a cremation that years have passed since the death.

The body is carried in a large, multi-tiered tower made of bamboo, brightly colored paper, string, tinsel, silk, cloth, mirrors, and flowers that is draped in either white or black, depending on the caste of the deceased. Along the way to the cremation site, it is important to ensure that the spirit of the deceased does not find its way back home. To confuse the spirit, the bearers shake the tower, spin it around in circles, and throw water at it, making for a very active procession.

Balinese Offerings

You may have noticed the many small, constantly refreshed “offerings” composed of leaves, flowers, fruit, water, and incense that appear in every corner of Balinese villages, indoors and out.  They represent love and devotion to the creator, and are intended to keep the universe in balance. In addition to these offerings, the Balinese are constantly working to please the gods in other ways, such as singing, cleaning, building, and even dressing for the gods in lace shirts, silk belts, batik sarongs, and head dresses.