Galungan – one of the biggest religious festivals in Bali

October 21, 2013 at 9:41 pm  •  Posted in Culture & Traditions by

There are two major hindu festivals & celebration in Bali and one of them is Galungan. In its importance it can be probably compared to Christmas for most of the western countries.

Galungan is also a local Balinese public holiday that lasts for 3 days.  Schools, banks and non-essential services will all be closed during the three-day Galungan celebration.  All Balinese employees (even if they work for non-Hindu employer) are supposed to have days off during Galungan.

In 2013 Galungan will be celebrated on 23rd of October.  Public holidays will last from 22nd to 24th of October.  Followed with Kuningan day on November 2nd, which is part of the whole celebration. Galungan happens every 210 days and its date is defined based on local Pawukon calendar.  Below you will find Galungan calendar for the next couple years.

Galungan celebrations in Bali

Religious meaning of Galungan is the celebration of the victory between good over evil, Dharma against Adharma. It’s a big family day, when extended family gather together. People who work away from their home villages always try to be back to celebrate Galungan.

For me, Galungan is one of the most beautiful holidays in Bali.  Streets get enormously rich with decorations and villagers wear beautiful ceremonial clothes as they gather on the streets.

The main street decoration for Galungan are Penjors – bamboo poles weighed down by offerings suspended at the end. These can be seen by the side of roads in every Balinese village. 

Galungan always lasts three days.

The first day (Penampahan Galungan) is not an actual celebration, but a big preparation for the next days ceremony. There is a lot to be done, decorating temples, offerings for gods, food for ceremonies etc. Men have to make penjors and prepare babi guling for the ceremony . (Babi guling a local balinese dish – roasted suckling pig).

The second day is the main day for Galungan Day, when all ceremonies happen. Every family will have a ceremony in their family temple and in the village temple. Everyone will be busy with religious ceremonies.

The third day, is called Galungan Manis (‘sweet galungan’). This is when the family can finally celebrate and have a big day off to have fun. Families often spend their time going to the beach. Swimming in the ocean is a symbolic way to clean up from bad energy and bad spirits.

Galungan calendar:

Name of day Activities
3 days before Penyekeban Cooking of bananas for offerings
2 days before Penyajaan Making of jaja (fried rice cakes)
1 day before Penampahan Slaughtering of pigs and turtles for feasts
1 day after Manis Galungan Visiting family
10 days after Kuningan Prayers, offerings – spirits return to heaven
11 days after Manis Kuningan Fun

Dates of Galungan:

Year Galungan Kuningan
2012 February 1 February 11
2012 August 29 September 8
2013 March 27 April 6
2013 October 23 November 2
2014 May 21 May 31

More on culture & traditions of Bali:

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One Comment

  1. den / November 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm /

    by the way, banks are off for 1 day only, this time they didnt work on 23 only, same about majority of other places

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