All you need to know about Galungan and Kuningan Celebration in Bali
Galungan and Kuningan commemoration is one of the most celebrated religious commemorations for the Hindus in Bali. During the 10 days of Galungan, everyone in Bali stops their job and even schools get a holiday. Everyone will come together devoting their time to celebrate the sacred days. There’s no better time to visit Bali for an authentic experience.
So, what’s Galungan and Kuningan is about? What’s the philosophy behind it? How to watch the celebration? Keep reading, you’ll find out all you need to know about Galungan and Kuningan celebration!
What is Galungan Celebration?
Celebrated to commemorate the victory of Good (Dharma) over Evil (Adharma), Galungan is taken from the Balinese word means to fight. The celebration lasts for ten days. Believing that Gods will come to earth and the spirits of relatives return to their home during the Galungan days, Balinese have the responsibility to warmly welcome them with offerings, prayers, and a happy heart.
Feasting together, wearing the finest traditional clothes, Barong dance rituals, are just some of many ways Balinese do to welcome the Galungan days. As you stroll the street of Bali during Galungan, you’ll see decorative bamboo called penjor everywhere, added with offerings and fruits, in almost all street sides of Bali. Everywhere, you’ll see locals wearing traditional clothes, walking to temples with offerings on their hand, sometimes a woman with a fruit basket on their head, a truly authentic sight of Bali.
The Mythology and Philosophy behind Galungan
The mythology of Galungan came from a legend that once upon a time Bali was ruled by a cruel King Mayadewana. With his power, he oppressed his people to gain everything he wanted, often doing evil deeds (Adharma). He forbid people to worship the Hindu Gods and he claimed to be a god himself, forcing people to worship him. Anyone who refused to do so will be punished.
As people started to worry, a Hindu priest Mpu Sankul Putih secluded himself to pray and ask guidance from the Gods. Balinese believe that Lord Indra, the King of the Gods, answered with help. He directly descended to earth with an army ready to crush the King Mayadewana side. A fierce battle ensued, with the Lord Indra side came to glory.
That’s what Galungan is about, celebrating the prevalence of Lord Indra against King Mayadewana, the victory of Good over Evil. For Balinese, the essence of Galungan also means the necessity to control evil lust which could lead to unhappiness.
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What is Kuningan?
While Galungan is the main name of the celebration’s period that lasts for ten days, Kuningan is the last day of Galungan. The day is so meaningful because it’s the last day the spirits of ancestors stay on earth with the family, before returning again next year. To express gratitude for the joyful Galungan days and to warmly say goodbye to the ancestors, Balinese gives special offerings of yellow rice.
The Barong Traditional Dance in Umanis Galungan Day
Barong usually performed as a narrative dance, telling the story of a fight between the good and the bad. During Galungan, Barong also performs as it’s philosophically related.
As part of Galungan’s processions, the mystical dance of Barong will be performed in villages across Bali. Ngelawang, as the Balinese call it. Believed as the divine protector, the Barong will visit each house in the village as a symbol of protection from Evil. After the Barong finishes its performance in a house, the resident usually gives canang sari as offering and sign of gratitude.
When Galungan and Kuningan is Celebrated?
Galungan Landed on the Wednesday of Dunggulan, the 11th week of Pawukon Calendar. Thanks to the 210-days in Pawukon Calendar Year, Galungan sometimes celebrated twice a year in Gregorian Calendar.
Here is the schedule for the next two years:
- 2020: February 19 – 29 and September 16 – 26
- 2021: April 14 – 24, and November 10 and 20
- 2022: June 8 – 18
- 2023: January 14 – 5, and August 2 – 12
Our Tips: How to See Galungan and Kuningan Celebration
- There is no specific location to celebrate Galungan because the boisterous celebration will be celebrated all over Bali. Visiting temples such as Uluwatu Temple, Ulun Datu Beratan Temple and Tanah Lot would be great as you see incoming people doing sacred rituals.
- Wear proper clothes when visiting the temple and do not get involved in the ritual unless locals invite you to do so.
- The dance of Barong usually performed in villages. If you stay in a house such as Airbnb instead of hotels, you might get lucky to see the performance firsthand.
- Are you the one who strives to taste local culinary? If you do, Galungan days will be a perfect time to visit Bali as all restaurants would compete to give the best authentic cuisine of Bali.
- Of course, there’s a setback when you stay in Bali during Galungan. As Galungan is a holiday in Bali, the government and all related offices will be closed. If you have an important thing to do, go do it before Galungan started.
Staying in Bali during Galungan days allows you to see the most authentic side of Bali. Even if the Galungan and Kuningan celebration only celebrated by the Balinese, staying in Bali during Galungan would be a perfect experience. It’s not often you can see people everyone in Bali going out with their finest traditional clothes. And of course, the ambiance would feel different during Galungan days. Prepare your camera, stroll around Bali, and you’ll never expect what a surprise you can find during Galungan days.