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Galungan in Bali

Galungan is a celebration day for the triumph of Good (Dharma) against the Bad (Adharma). In 11th century, it was celebrated for the first time in Indonesia especially Java (Majapahit Kingdom), based on the Pararaton Java Holy book. However, since the fall out of Majapahit Kingdom, it did not celebrate for a long decade. It is celebrated again in Bali after the King of Sunu Kusunu got a divine inspiration from Bhatara Durga. He believed that God had been recovered their society from their illness, after it was celebrated again. That is why Galungan is celebrated until today.

Based on Bali mythology, it held since the battle of the troops of Bhatara Jaya Indra and Maya Dhanautama who always forbid the people who want to pray. Bhatara Jaya Indra won the battle, although he loosed many of their troops. The Tirta Empul at Tampak Siring, Gianyar, Bali is the evidence of that battle. They believe that the water from the Tirta Empul is holy water since the water sprinkling can make the die troop to be a live again.

By the way, hopefully this celebration should make them inspire to be controlling selves, bright thinking, educated and wise. God love their creature when they love Him too.


Three or four days before the New Year (Nyepi), the paraphernalia and pratima images of deified ancestors from thousands of temples all over Bali are carried in long, joyous processions to the beach or to a nearby holy spring where they are sanctified with water. By late afternoon, thousands of Balinese have reached the store, raising a din of clashing gamelan.

White-turbaned priest tinkle prayer bells as the palanquins holding the icons are rushed, swirling, into the marigold-strewn surf. After the symbolic washing, men in deep trances lop off the heads of young pigs and are wrestled away, swinging at their captors with bloody swords. This is no show; it is an awesome display of a living religion.

One day before Nyepi, purification ceremonies conducted by priests are held at all the main crossroads in Bali's villages and towns. Offerings of brem and the flesh of domestic animals are placed there to tempt the lurking bhufa and kala into the open. Toward evening on the same day, the last day of the old year, the whole island starts making as much noise as is humanly possible, cleansing the land of malevolent spirits.

Children, especially little boys, set off continuous explosions, lighting small amounts of kerosene in big bamboo tubes. They blow whistles, set firecrackers, and bang gongs, homemade cymbals, pots and pans, trash cans, corrugated roofing, and petroleum drums. Any noisemaker they can lay their hands on will suffice to create pandemonium in all corners of the family compound and down every alleyway.

Priests stay up the whole night chanting magical formulas to exercise the hordes of malevolent spirits from the old year. In Denpasar, thousands of boys gather at Puputan Square for a parade through the streets carrying flaming torches and weird bamboo and paper monsters and demons (ogoh-ogoh) to make sure that all the malingering spirits are aroused. The next day, Nyepi, all is deathly silent.


The Balinese New Year in the lunar (saka) calendar, this holy day almost always occurs during the spring equinox toward the end of March or beginning of April. Nyepi is a day of silent retreat, prayer, and quiet meditation's Day the World Stood Still. It feels like Bali 50 years ago: no electricity, no cars, no tourists as the people sleep so do the dogs. The new year must begin with complete nothingness because all existence originates from nothingness.

The purpose of this behavior is to suppress passion, teach control of excesses, and practice semadhi. No transportation is taken, no work done, no lamps burned, and no sexual or other sensory pleasures are indulged in. Meals are prepared in advance as no fires may be lit, only small candies inside the home are permitted. You may not read, smoke, cook, or eat, and for 24 hours no one leaves the house compound.

To see that stillness is preserved, male members of the local ban/ar keep silent watch at points along the roads and in the alleys. Only those with special written exemptions are allowed on the roads or into other public areas. If guests must leave for the airport, the hotel has to submit the names of those leaving to the banjar. Streets are patrolled and if the occupant of a stopped car is not on the list, there could be a problem.

Restaurants, offices, and shops are closed, traffic lights are shut off, and even Denpasar's streets are deserted. Bali's ports are closed down because no ships or ferries are in operation. To find their way around grounds, hotel staff cany shaded flashlights pointed downward.

Why all this? The Balinese hope that the demons and evil spirits aroused by the noise the night before will be deluded into thinking that Bali is completely devoid ot lite, prompting them to leave the island.

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