The Galungan festival is one of Bali’s most important religious ceremonies and the next festival will be held 1-11 February, 2012. It symbolises the victory of Dharma (Virtue) upon Adharma (Evil), and honours ancestors as well as the creator of the universe. Though it is a Hindu festival, participation of people from all castes and denominations is all part of the fun, as Erin Secomb discovered…
“Bali’s people are very religious, in the truest sense of the word – their beliefs are reflected in the way they live their lives daily and hourly, and they happily devote much of their time to preparing and giving offerings, and especially to the celebration of their favourite festivals.
One such festival that I had the pleasure and honour of encountering on one of my frequent visits was the Galungan festival. Ten days of celebration, across the entire island culminate in a heartwarming day, known as Kuningan – a Balinese described its importance in their calendar as similar to our Christmas Day. All the children of each village dressed up in one long dragon-like costume with a scary god head at the front, and danced through the streets banging drums and shaking rattles, accompanied by much hilarity. The small offerings each Balinese made to the god that looks after an area, be it a shop, a house or a park, multiplied into the thousands, and the heady smell of sandalwood incense and jasmine flowers permeated everything.
Every house, shop and temple was decorated with a homemade panjor, created from a long length of bamboo decorated with curls of palm fronds, flowers and woven bells, giving the whole island an enormously festive appearance. The Galungan festival is one of those occasions in Bali when everyone is on the streets cheering for the children, giving offerings and smiling generously. Everyone feasted together that evening. It was truly wonderful!”
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* photo by Dennis Walton – Intrepid Photography Competition