One basic principle of Hindu belief is that the universe is structured – things do not happen randomly and it is essential that a balance must be maintained between order and disorder. Spirits are everywhere and ultimately control nature and as such these spirits must be worshipped regularly in order to maintain the balance. Rituals and festivals are the way the Balinese maintain this order. These festivals have great meaning and are the part of the essence of Balinese culture.
There are other festivals as well, instituted by the government or other organizations to maintain and preserve certain cultural aspects of Balinese life. The best example of this is the Bali Art Festival – held every year from mid-June through mid-July. If you are planning to visit Bali at about this time it is worth the extra effort to be in Bali on opening day. Never will you have an better opportunity to see Bali’s glorious culture. Even if you are in Singapore or other part of the region it is well worth the trip. Below is a brief overview of some of Bali’s more important holidays.
Balinese Siwa Ratri
Balinese Siwaratri on the dark moon of the seventh month based on the Balinese lunar calendar system, Balinese will celebrate the Siwaratri or the Night of Siwa. This holy day is devoted to God Siwa, the destroyer. Balinese believes that on this day, God Siwa, the destroyer meditate for the welfare of the world, and the God Siwa will bestow a pardon for all sin to someone if he accompany the God Siwa in his meditation by observing some self restriction and meditate on the night of Siwaratri.
The celebration of Siwaratri, night of Siwa will light up the night all over Bali. On this night, temples will be full of the congregations. They stay awake all night long, recite prayer or old religious story, chat with friend (for those who takes a lesser self- restriction) and fight the sleepy eyes as hard as possible. The students will celebrate the Siwaratri, night of Siwa in their respective school, they gather in the school temple under the supervision of their teacher, recites prayer, read the holy book, or simply chat with other student.
The Galungan Day
Bali’s most important festival is the Galungan festival. It is a feast and festival which is held throughout the whole island and occurs every 210 days on Budha Kliwon Dungulan. It is believed that during this ten day period all Balinese gods will descend to earth for the festivities. Barongs prance from temple to temple and village to village in celebration of Galungan with the gods. Galungan to the Balinese is the most important holiday period as it symbolizes the victory of Dharma, or virtue, upon Adharma, or all that is evil. The festivities are made extra special by the fitting of ‘penjor’ (brightly decorated very tall bamboo poles with woven young coconut leaves, cakes, fruits and flowers) on the right side of the entrance to every house which arch over roads looking like the top of a gothic cathedral.
The Kuningan Day
This holiday takes place ten days after Galungan, bringing the Balinese New Year holiday period to a close. Ceremonies are held for ancestral spirits.
Nyepi (Silent Day)
Every society in the world should have the Nyepi holiday. This holiday is the Balinese New Year called çaka New Year. It is a day of total silence throughout the island. No activity is whatsoever is allowed, no traffic at all on the roads, no fire may be lit, use of electricity is banned (except in the tourist hotels). Purification and sacrificial rites are held the day before – culminating at night with Ogoh-Ogoh dancing through the villages. The Ogoh-Ogoh are large demon images carried about the villages joined by all the men trying to make as much noise as possible. The idea is to wake up all the evil spirits on Bali then on Nyepi when the spirits return, Bali is absolutely quiet and the spirits, not able to find anyone, leave the island for good.
Tumpek Krulut is dedicated for all musical instruments, mask, and other tool for art performances that are used in the numerous religious ceremonies in Bali. The Tumpek Krulut takes its name from the name of week of its occasion. It is celebrated every 210 days, in the 17th week of Balinese Pawukon cycle (a cycle consist of 30 weeks). On this special day, offerings are given to pay homage to the musical instruments, masks, and dance costumes. The instruments and other paraphernalia are cleaned, decorated with young coconut leaf offerings, given a special set of offering and sprinkled with holy water. The members of the group that use the instruments, costumes and masks, pray together and ask a blessing from the God.
The day devoted to Sanghyang Aji Saraswati, Goddes symbolizing knowledges and arts and when blessing ceremony is given to holy scriptures, literatures of sciences and arts held at every family compound.
The Balinese Hindus will celebrate a very special day devoted to Hyang Pramesti Guru and Hyang Pitara (ancestors), which is meant to ask for protection and prosperity. It is celebrated at every family temple and holy place throughout Bali. Pagerwesi day has a close relationship within Saraswati day. It falls 4 days after Saraswati day and there is continuous meaning in between. After people received knowledge on Saraswati day, they must remind that the knowledge is transferred through guru or teacher and Pagerwesi is the day to show our respect to the teacher and the main guru (God or Siva).
The historical roots of Tumpek Landep trace to rites that for the blessing and sharpening of weapons of conflict. Over the generations the meaning was expanded to include any tool or instrument made of metal eventually including bicycles, motorcycles and cars.Tumpek Landep is, in fact, a day set aside for sharpening all the “weapons of our lives.” Tumpek Landep is a day for evaluation and retrospection on how well we have mastered that knowledge for the benefit of the world. Accordingly, Tumpek Landep seeks to honor human skills and ingenuity and the tools and technology used in practicing those skills. Tumpek Landep is the day devoted to Sang Hyang Pasupati, the lord of all metal implements, when blessing ceremony is given to heirlooms weapons and other metal tools (including cars and other vehicles) for magical power and proper function, held at every family compound, especially at smiths and garages.