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  • Jean-Pierre Roux

Galungan & Kuningan


Galungan, one of the most important Balinese festivals, is the culmination of celebrations held in honour of the creator and ancestral spirits. It marks the time when the ancestral spirits visit the earth.


Galungan Day provides an understanding that good intentions and efforts will always win. At the core of the festival is the celebration of good and the overcoming of evil; the victory of Dharma and the defeat of Adharma. The festival usually runs for around 10 days. With the return of these ancestral spirits to their former homes, the Balinese are expected to demonstrate kindness through making offerings and chanting prayers.


During Galungan you will notice the tall bamboo poles that line the streets and roads. The bamboo poles locally referred to as ‘penjor’, are used to hang offerings as a kind gesture towards the spirits. The poles have colourful decorations that will often include fruits, flowers, and leaves from the coconut tree. The offerings, on the other hand, will consist of special foods,

scented flowers, and woven palm offerings. These sacrifices are offered at home as well as at the local temples (referred to as pura). Women will be seen with their offerings carried on their heads, while the men will carry with them palm leaves to the temple.

More importantly, a couple of days before and after the celebrations are accorded specific names, each dependent on the set of activities carried out in honour of the celebrations. The dates will vary from year to year simply because Balinese traditional ceremonies are observed in line with the Balinese calendar.


Three days before Galungan Day is known as Penyekeban Day. On that day, humans are expected to refrain from doing things that are against their religion. Two days before Galungan is Penyajaan, where Hindu’s have to really stabilize themselves in carrying out the ceremony and prepare offerings, traditionally the day is spent making penjor (a symbol of prosperity)

The day before Galungan Day, is known as Penampahan Galungan. In this procession, Hindu’s slaughter pigs as a symbol of killing the laziness that are in humans, and they are used as offerings for religious ceremonies. It is hoped that on Galungan day, the mind can be pure and clean, and all negative influences can be lost.


Ten days after Galungan Day, is called Kuningan Day. This ceremony should be held before 12 at noon. It is believed that the ancestral spirits go back to their homes, and this is marked by offerings of yellow rice to mark the end of Galungan. rice is a symbol of human’s gratitude towards God for all wealth, health and life that has been given. Hindu’s believe this celebration is a blessing and giving prosperity to the whole world.




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