Galungan Celebration Marks 10-Day Reunion with Ancestors

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Illustration of penjors on Galungan celebration in Bali. (Credit: kolibri5 on Pixabay)
  • GALUNGAN is 10-day celebration held every 210 days. Families and communities come together to honor their ancestors, express gratitude, and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. All Hindu compounds will install penjor in front of their entrance.

Galungan is a significant religious ceremony celebrated by the Balinese Hindu community in Bali, Indonesia. It is one of the most important and festive occasions on the island’s religious calendar. The Galungan ceremony marks the victory of dharma (goodness) over adharma (evil) and is a time to honor ancestors and deities.

Galungan poses one of the religious celebrations held based on pawukon calendar and it is the most grandiose one. The upcoming Galungan falls on Buda Kliwon Dungulan (Aug 2, 2023). Here are some key aspects and features of the Galungan celebration:

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Galungan is based on the Balinese Hindu belief in the constant struggle between good and evil forces. It commemorates the triumph of dharma when the ancestral spirits return to visit their earthly descendants. The celebration lasts for ten days, with the pinnacle being on the Galungan day itself

Preparation and Decorations

Preparations for Galungan begin weeks in advance. Balinese families create beautifully decorated bamboo poles called “penjor” that are adorned with coconut leaves, fruit, flowers, and colorful fabrics. These penjors are placed in front of house compound, creating a stunning visual display throughout the island.

In particular regions, there are community groups remaining to slaughter pig collectively for preparation of various traditional foods for consumption and offerings. They also make some food giveaways for neighbors known as ‘ngejot’ to share happiness and mutually taste their respective servings.

Religious Offerings

During Galungan, Balinese Hindus prepare offerings called “banten” to honor their ancestors and deities. Elaborate offerings consisting of fruits, flowers, rice cakes, and other symbolic items are meticulously crafted and placed on family altars and temple shrines. These offerings are made to express gratitude, seek blessings, and strengthen the spiritual connection between the living and the divine.

Temple Visits and Prayers

Galungan is a time for community and religious devotion. Balinese Hindus visit temples to pray, make offerings, and participate in ceremonies led by priests. Temples become vibrant with devotees dressed in customary attires, presenting their offerings, and engaging in prayer and meditation. The atmosphere is filled with spirituality, incense, and the sounds of chants and gamelan music.

Cultural Celebrations

Galungan is not only a religious event but also a time of joy and celebration. Communities come together to organize cultural activities, traditional dances, processions, and special meals. Balinese people wear their finest traditional clothing, and the streets are alive with festivities and music.

Closing Ceremony

The final day of Galungan, known as “Kuningan,” marks the end of the ten-day celebration. On this day, special prayers are offered. In certain region, families variably visit ancestral graves to pay their respects and seek blessings if the deceased family members have not been cremated. The celebrations culminate with a grand closing ceremony and feasts shared among family members and the community.

Galungan is a vibrant and deeply spiritual celebration that showcases the rich cultural and religious traditions of the Balinese Hindu community. The ceremony is a time of reflection, devotion, and togetherness, as families and communities come together to honor their ancestors, express gratitude, and celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Galungan is not only a religious observance but also a cherished cultural event that highlights the unique identity of the Balinese people.

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