Friday, 16 October 2009


The most holy festival on the Balinese calendar was celebrated this week with ceremonies across the island to welcome the Hindu gods and ancestors to Earth. In Hindu belief, Galungan opens a 10-day celebration of the triumph of good over evil. It is a time when many Balinese return to their ancestral homes to be with family and friends and to prepare offerings and food for their ancestors.

The men prepare towering bamboo poles, decorated with intricate designs made from young coconut leaves, for placement at the front of the houses so that people travelling on the roads through villages move under canopies of the tall, festival poles. Major temples throughout Bali are crowded as Hindus gather to pray, make gifts to the gods and enjoy performances of the traditional barong dance. After 10 days, when the gods and ancestors return from Earth to heaven, the most important day of the festival “Kuningan” is celebrated by people quietly giving thanks for peace, safety and wellbeing. Galungan occurs twice during the 13-month Balinese calendar.

It was fascinating for me to pass through the many villages on the way to the surf spots. So many decorated poles around and all very artfully and with care prepared. The poles also come with a small altar for the offerings to be placed there several times a day. I have also been able to make some nice pictures of the street scenes. By driving through the streets I’ve also spotted traditional Balinese figures – A dragon and a demon accompanied by a traditional band. They were walking around the neighborhoods and entertaining mostly the kids who had great interest and sometimes fear of these figures.

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