Galungan and Kuningan Days
If you happen to visit Bali ahead of Galungan Days, you’ll discover that most temples are attractively decorated, dressed up with batik and white or yellow cloths wrapped around their individual shrines. The streets are lined with Penjor, an offering suspended from tall, curved bamboo pool with decorations. The arch represents Mt. Agung, the body is river that flows from the mountains to the sea, and along its route are the products of the harvest, tied to the pole; at the foot of the pole is a temporary shrine. The Balinese Hindus use the Saka lunar calendar and the 210-day Pawukon calendar. Each of 30 seven-day weeks in one Pawukon cycle has unique name. The ten days between Wednesday of Dunggulan, the 11th week, and Saturday of Kuningan, the 12th week, are a period called Galungan or Galungan Days, starting on the Galungan and ending on the day Kuningan.
Galungan Days are the important religious celebrations for Balinese Hindus. The Galungan festivity marks the victory of dharma (order) over adharma (disorder). According to the local legend, centuries ago, Bali came to be ruled by a cruel, godless tyrant named Mayadenawa, who banned religious festival, tore down temples and punished anyone caught worshipping their Hindu gods. While he reigned, pestilence and famine raged across the island. The crops withered, rivers turned dry and people grew sick. Indra, god of storms and war, heard the island’s prayers and came to earth with a great army to destroy Mayadenawa. Following the terrible battles, the evil king was killed in the hills of Gianyar. He died on Rebo (Wednesday) of the 11th week of Pawukon calendar. Mayadenawa symbolizes the adharma and the day of his killing marks the victory of dharma over adharma. The Balinese Hindus express this victory with prayers, the feast, offerings and also the get-togetherness.
Aside than that, the Balinese Hindus believe the defied ancestors of the family descend to their former homes during Galungan. These defied must be entertained, and welcomed with prayers and offerings. Families with deceased relatives who are buried and have not yet been cremated-thus not yet deified-must make offerings at the graves. The visit of these ancestors is expected to last until Kuningan.
In the Gregorian calendar system, this year, Galungan Day occurs on April 24. However, from six days before the celebration people are busy preparing the festivity. Started on April 18, 2002, six days before the main celebration, called Sugian Jawa, is a special day to put the special offerings mainly in family temples for Gods and Goddesses, as the manifestation of the Almighty, while saving a prayer to purify ourselves. On the next day, called Sugian Bali, the same ritual activities with the preceding day are held.
On the Sunday before Galungan called Penyekeban, from sekeb, ‘to cover up,’ green bananas are sealed in huge clay pots upon which a small coconut husk fire burns. Lots of bananas are required for Galungan offerings, and this treatment ripens them quickly. This day is also believed as the day when Sang Kala Tiga (invisible disturber) is coming down the earth to seduce people to do bad things. Until the Galungan day comes, it is believed that Sang Kala Tiga is around us, so people should alert themselves by doing many good things and ritual to cast away the devil.
The next day, Penyajaan, is devoted to making the many colored cakes of fried rice dough, jaja. This jaja is used to make offerings.
On the day before Galungan, called Penampahan – from nampah meaning to slaughter an animal-pigs or turtles are killed for the traditional Galungan morning feasts. Featured in this feast includes babi guling (roasted pig), traditional lawar (a spicy hash of mixed vegetables teamed with meat and often fresh pig’s blood).
Penampahan also symbolizes the slaughter of the bad things that represented by the slaughtered animals’ bad behaviors. This, is definitely the ultimate defeat over disorder. Penjor, the bamboo pole that beautifully decorated with young coconut leaves and other things, is also erected to welcome the victory day.
Galungan day is a time for prayer, family get-together and offering. People pray at the family temples and some other temples. Usually people who live in town go to the hometown to visit their elders.
The day after Galungan-called Manis Galungan-is a time for visiting friends and relatives and the roads are usually packed with cars and motorcycles. Kuningan marks the end of Galungan celebration. It takes place on the Saturday of the 12th week of the Pawukon cycle, ten days after Galungan. Kuningan-which comes from the word for kuning (yellow), because the turmeric in rice offerings gives them this color. Galungan is all-island festivals. The preparations in the villages are obviously seen. Everybody gets to work, decorating the temple, making offerings and penjor as well. Galungan is a worth seeing festival.
(Article compiled from Bali Sekala & Niskala and other sources)