Festive days and ceremonies in Bali

Ceremonies in Bali are not uncommon as religion is the meaning of life for Balinese people and ceremonies are their life. Having found yourself in Bali even for a short period of time it is impossible not to see at least one of the ceremonies in the streets as well as in the temples. Balinese people are very well-wishing and therefore foreigners may be present during the ceremonies and take photos. But it is necessary to observe several rules: first, do not disturb praying people and do not struggle to the centre of the events. You can always enter the temple wearing a sarong (it is relevant for both men and women as the knees should be covered) and watch a mysterious and enigmatic event. Second, nobody of the present should be positioned higher than the priest or stand between a priest, praying people and an altar. Besides it is strictly prohibited for women to enter the temple during their special days. According to local regulations if you do not comply with the rules or create situation that may interfere with the course of a ceremony, it equals to administrative offence.

Nyepi or the Day of Silence is the most bright and colourful festival that is really worth seeing. The dates of celebration depend on the lunar calendar but always fall on March. New Year holidays in Bali last for several days and just the only one – Nyepi is considered to be the day when the gods descend to earth. Two days before that Melasti – the day of purifying sacred objects belonging to temples is celebrated and it is believed to be the smartest festival. Pengerupukan – the day of casting out evil spirits follows the day of purification when a parade of Ogoh-ogoh papier mache monsters goes along the streets.

Nyepi is the day of meditation and strict self-control. Locals are trying to restrain themselves in having fun. Not to offend the spirit of purity Balinese people follow the four rules:

  • First, no light and fire, it is prohibited to build a fire even for cooking.
  • Second, no work is supposed to be done, it means that shops, restaurants and entertainment centres will be closed.
  • Third, all sorts of entertainment are prohibited, carnal pleasures even more so.
  • And the fourth rule requires making as little physical movements as possible.

During this day total stillness descended on the island, services of hotels and adjacent beaches were quite limited or completely unavailable. Even the international airport was closed. Ngembak Nyepi – the day of forgiveness follows the quiet Nyepi when all the residents of the island apologize for their sins and mistakes.

Galungan is another one of the biggest and the most colorful religious festivals of Bali. It is celebrated every 210 days and also obligatorily on Wednesday. Perhaps this is the most long-lasting festival, it goes on for the whole of 10 days and ends with another holiday called Kuningan. It is assumed that during Galungan the gods visit Bali and the spirits of the ancestors come down to their relatives. Therefore ceremonies are held everywhere, in every street you will see tens of “penjors” – bamboo poles “dressed” in festive attire. These poles symbolize dragons as symbols of luck where the tail is the top of a penjor and the head with the open mouth is the bottom where the offerings are positioned. They also symbolize gratitude to the gods, for instance, for rich harvest. Men have a special duty during this festival – to kill a pig as a sacrifice. The ritual blood is used for cooking of a special dish called “lawar” made of vegetables and greens with spices. Besides ceremonies theatrical performances and musical events are also arranged. Kuningan is something like All Saints’ Day, it is celebrated in the circle of relatives and loved ones and it completes the ten days celebration with a ceremony of gratitude to the gods and the spirits of the ancestors.

The dates of important national holidays of the present year should also be mentioned:

February 16, 2018 – Chinese New Year

May 29, 2018 – Buddha’s day of birth

June 12 - 17, 2018 – Idul Fitri, a Moslem holiday

August 17, 2018 – Indonesia Independence Day is celebrated

National holidays attract a large number of guests to the island, therefore the level of prices for accommodation, for services like Spa, vehicle rental and excursions increases markedly during these periods.