During our Bali trip, we spent a few days in Ubud. Imagine our delight, when we discovered that our visit coincided with the Hindu holiday Galungan. This is one of the most important Balinese religious holidays, as it commemorates the victory of good over evil. Everywhere we went, the air was abuzz with excitement!
This holiday spans over a ten day period. For several days before the festivities, we observed the men, both young and old, crafting penjors. These tall, curved bamboo poles are then beautifully decorated with coconut leaves, intricate designs, painted in bright colors and erected outside each home, along the streets. To the Balinese people, the penjor represents the highest and holiest mountain, Mount Agung, on the island. Offerings of fruits and flowers are then attached to, and suspended from these penjors. While the men are busy creating these poles, woman clean their homes preparation of the holiday, and cook many special dishes for the family feast. In addition, bamboo altars with offerings of food and flowers are placed at the entrance of every residence.
On Galungan day itself, the ancestral spirits are believed to visit their former homes. The families living in them have to be welcoming to these spirits and honor them with prayers and offerings. Everyone dresses in gorgeous sarongs, with a sash tied around their waist. In addition, the men wear a head-dress, called udeng. Woven baskets piled high with offerings for the spirits are carried to the family temple.
Every village has its own traditions. On the second day of Galungan, people visit extended family and friends.
The festivities come to a close ten days later at Kunigan, when the ancestral spirits are said to return to the heavens.
I hope that you will enjoy the music along with the slideshow of the preparations and the first day of the Galungan holiday!
The Balinese are some of the kindest and most gentle people I have ever encountered, making the visit to this magical place even more special!