Wednesday, February 1 (2012) marks the first day of Galungan one of the major religious festivals in the Balinese calendar. Every 210 days, the Balinese gods visit the earth and are entertained and welcome throughout the island. The day before Galungan is a busy time when preparations are made in the household. Beautifully woven offerings are created using palm leaves, flowers, cakes and fruit and food is lovingly cooked and prepared for the celebrations to come.

On the first day of Galungan, which lasts for 10 days, visitors will notice traditionally dressed families making offerings at the temples throughout the island. Families who have ancestors who have not yet been cremated, but who are buried in the village cemeteries make offerings at the cemeteries as well. Penjor, long, decorated bamboo poles bend gracefully along the roadsides to mark the celebration of the festival. Most people travel back to their ancestoral villages for at least a day in honor of this celebration and to pay their respects at the family temple. Everywhere throughout the island, people can be seen in happily enjoying the festive occasion dressed in their best clothing.

Galungan celebrates the triumph of good over evil as symbolized by the victory ofDharma over Adharma. Dharma is a complex philosophical idea which includes the concept of a moral order in society – a central concept in Hindu philosophy.

The last day of the Galungan period is Kuningan. On this day, which marks the closing of the Galungan period, celebrations are held for the ancesteral spirits and the gods once again return to the heavens.


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