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Galungan - Bali's Most Important Festival | 2019 Dates & Festivites

The festival of Galungan in Bali is a time of great celebration and joy, transforming the island into a festive, colourful and bustling haven of activity. The festival is celebrated twice every year, according to the 210 day Balinese calendar - the Puwakon.

Galungan Significance and History

Celebration of Galungan in Bali, Indonesia
Offerings made in Bali during Galungan (Source)

Galungan in Bali honours the God of creation - Ida Sang Hyang Widi. The festival is believed to be a celebration of the triumph of good against evil or dharma against adharma according to the Hindu religion. According to local legends, the festival is to mark the defeat of the Balinese king Mayadenawa. The king, extremely powerful and undefeatable, did not let his subjects embrace or follow Hinduism. Finally, the Lord Indra defeated him in the bloody battle at Tampaksiring, Gianyar. It is believed that the King tried many tricks to escape defeat, including turning into stone and statue, but the Lord was finally able to defeat him with his well-aimed arrow. The place where King Mayadenawa was killed is now the site of the Tirta Empul Temple.

Galungan in Bali Celebrations: Before the Festival

Galungan decorations in Bali
Bananas are Used as Decorations and Offerings of God During Galungan in
Bali (Source)

Different days mark different rounds of celebrations and unique festivities of Galungan in Bali, lasting for around 10 days. Three days before Galungan, on the Penyekeban day - bananas are prepared as offerings to the Gods. Penyekeban literally translates to mean 'the day to cover', as the Balinese cover green bananas in clay pots to ripen them fast. The next day, the Penyejaan -fried rice cakes or jaja are made as offerings. The day before the festival, the Penampahan - chickens and pigs are slaughtered to prepare a huge feast. Some of the traditional food prepared on this day include satay and lawar - a pork preparation.

Galungan in Bali: During the Festival

Decorations for Galungan in Bali, Indonesia
Bamboo Poles are Decorated with Coconut Leaves, Lining the Streets of Bali During Galungan (Source)

Bamboo poles are strung with coconut leaves and other artefacts, lined along the streets of Bali during the Galungan festival. The locals wear traditional clothes, and decorate their houses and gates with traditional artwork. There are many temple festivities planned, like the Kuningan celebrations at the Sakenan Temple. Offerings of flowers and foods are carried to the temple by both men and women folk. Many dance performances and rituals run throughout the days. Galungan day and the next day is usually spent with visiting family and relatives. During Galungan, a popular ceremony is the Ngelawang, or an exorcism. It is carried out a barong, who goes from house to house and is made offerings of money, to rid the house of any evil and restore the good.

Post-Galungan in Bali, Kuningan

Kuningan in Bali, Indonesia
Kuningan is Celebrated 10 Days After Galungan (Source)


It is believed that the spirits of ancestors descend upon Bali during the Galungan festival, and the locals organise a variety of offering and rituals during the course of the festival to honour these spirits. The Kuningan observed 10 days after Galungan Day, is the day on which it is believed that the spirits of the ancestors who had come down from for the celebrations, would return back to their holy abodes. The Balinese people prepare special offerings of yellow rice on this day.

Galungan 2018 Dates

Penyekeban 2018 - December 23rd, 2018,
Penyejaan 2018 - December 24th 2018,
Penamphan 2018 - December 25th, 2018,
Galungan 2018 - December 26th, 2018,
Kuningan 2019 - January 5th, 2019

Galungan and Kuningan 2019 Dates

Penyekeban 2019 - July 21st, 2019,
Penyejaan 2019 - July 22nd 2019,
Penamphan 2019 - July 23rd 2019,
Galungan 2019 - July 24th 2019,
Kuningan 2019 - August 3rd, 2019

Best Temples For Observing Galungan in Bali

Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Balinese Temple With Best Galungan Celebrations
Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, One of the Best Temples to Celebrate Galungan in Bali (Source)

One of the best temples that comes alive during the Galungan in Bali is the Pura Luhur Uluwatu, which is one of the largest temples of the island. The Pura Besaikh is also another famous temple, as is Penglipuran. The Sanekan temple also hosts many celebrations, especially during the Kuningan.

The Galungan festival in Bali is a delightful experience. It is great to be a part of the festive atmoshere, understand its significance to the culture, tradition and religious beliefs of the Balinese people, and to celebrate this unique festival with them.

This post was published by Parvathi Preethan