Galungan. One of Bali’s Most Important Holidays and Its Unique Traditions

Those who have been on the island of Gods for quite a while now must have already heard about “Galungan” at least once. Galungan is the name of a Balinese holiday which is celebrated every 210 days – one Balinese year. This is the day where Balinese people celebrate Dharma over Adharma (Good over Evil).

 

In Hinduism mythology, there was an evil god named Mayadenawa who wanted to be worshipped. Mayadenawa forbade people from praying to God. This situation made Bhatara Indra – the God of war in Hinduism mythology – descend to earth and defeat Mayadenawa. This victory was later celebrated as Galungan Day.

 

Although it is called Galungan Day, the celebration ceremony actually lasts for 10 days, with the preparation ceremony starting 25 days earlier, which means a total of 35 days of celebration. Normally, all schools in Bali are closed for two weeks around this time.

 

There are a couple things that you will notice around this period. The obvious one is the beautiful Penjor –  the bamboo poles with offerings attached on it. You will find Penjor lined up on all the roads all over Bali around the time of Galungan. 

Another beautiful custom on Galungan is the practicing of Barong Dance, also known as Ngelawang. You’ll see groups of kids going around the village parading Barong featuring a panther-like mask and costume worn by two people dancing from door to door. This is a delightful expression of Balinese creativity. As they dance from one spot to another, people usually give the children a small donation.    

This year, Galungan Day is on the 24th of July. So starting from the middle of July, you’ll see some street ornaments indicating that Galungan Day is just around the corner. 

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