The Balinese have a lot of ceremonies and celebrations. Galungan and the ensuing Kuningan are among the most important ones. They come second insignificance, only after Nyepi. These ceremonies also carry a lot of cultural and religious importance.
Just like many other ceremonies in Bali, you will not miss it when it happens. The general atmosphere during Galungan and Kuningan is a celebratory one. You’ll find a lot of decorations in most places. Here is all you need to know about Galungan and Kuningan.
Good vs Evil
Galungan commemorates the victory of good against evil. The legend goes that there was an evil king Mayadenawa who didn’t let his subjects to embrace Hinduism. The king was so powerful that no mortal can defeat him. Lord Indra (the god of rain, thunder, and lightning) has to personally come to Bali to defeat Mayadenawa. The battleground was in Tampaksiring. Additionally, the location where the king bled to death has now become Pura Tirta Empul. This is the source of celebration.
Held every 210 days
The ceremony might be encountered twice in a Gregorian year. For traditional and religious purposes, the Balinese use a 210-day calendar system known as pawukon. Furthermore, this calendar determines all of the Balinese rituals, from daily rituals to big ones like temple anniversaries and huge holidays. As for this year, Galungan starts on the 24th of July while Kuningan starts on August 2nd.
Galungan is a 10-day festival where Balinese go all out to celebrate it. The festival starts with the slaughtering of pigs for a communal feast. They also erect a lot of penjors, intricately decorated bamboo poles. The poles are naturally curved at the top. Penjors are adorned not only with beautiful decorations but also some foods like rice, fruits, and coconuts. People also wear their best clothes and visit their families and then pray at temples. Kuningan marks the end of the festival.
The culinary aspect
For outsiders, Galungan and Kuningan is also a culinary festival. Balinese best pork dishes are also available at the beginning of Galungan. They also give a lot of offering during the celebration. In the end, during Kuningan, you can find nasi kuning (yellow rice). The yellow color comes from turmeric use. Yellow is indeed the color of Lord Vishnu, the protector.
Galungan and Kuningan are important days for Balinese. Even though it is not a national holiday, all schools are off for two weeks. This festive period is marked with many penjors and lots of celebrations in Bali.