Galungan & Kuningan are the years most important spiritual events for the Balinese. Celebrated every 210 days according to the Hindu Saka Calendar, “Galungan” symbolizes the victory of Dharma over Adharma or “Virtue over Evil” which has its origin in the mythology of “Mayadenawa”. It is believed that during the ten days of Galungan, all the gods as well as the supreme deity “Sang Hyang Widhi” will visit earth and participate in the festivities. During Galungan and the following festival of Kuningan which marks the end of this special time, there is much cultural activity on and around Bali’s many temples.

The Balinese believe that the spirits of their ancestors return into their homes during this period and various rituals and offerings are conducted to welcome them. Balinese travel to their villages as families meet and join together at this important time. Bali is colorfully decorated and festive activities can be seen daily. Tall bamboo poles called “Penjor” can be seen everywhere placed on the right side of the entrance to family homes. These Penjor are decorated with fruits, coconut leaves and flowers as a welcoming gesture to the ancestors who will visit, A small bamboo altar sits beneath and is where the “banten” (woven palm-leaf) offering is left with incense for the spirits. Galungan begins with several days of preparations called “Penyekeban”. Families cover green un-ripe bananas in large clay pots to help speed up the ripening process. The second day is called “Penyajaan” which marks a time of introspection for the Balinese. The last day of preparations is called “Penampahan” or slaughtering day. On this day, Balinese slaughter a sacrificial animal, which is to be used in the rituals.

The celebrations climax is when Balinese start praying in the early morning at their family’s temples, then together they visit “Tri Khayangan” the main village temple. Depending on each families situation some will even travel to pray further away at one of Bali’s most religious temples, like Pura Besakih (The Mother Temple). The day of Galungan is very special for the Balinese, similar to the New Years day in the western world when families spend time together in their villages. The day after is called “Manis Galungan” and is the time to visit friends and relatives or for a family

The last celebration of this festival 10 days after Galungan is called “Kuningan” referring to the special offerings made of yellow turmeric rice which are a symbol of the Balinese gratitude towards God for all the Life, Joy, Wealth, Health and Prosperity given. The “God Wisnu” protector of the Hindu trinity is identified by the same yellow color. On this day the supreme “God Sang Hyang Widhi” descends to earth to give blessing for all the people of Bali. Kuningan marks the return of the all the Gods and ancestors to their own realm. Many believe that the celebration must be completed before noon on this day before Gods and Goddess’ return to the heavens.