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Traditions in Bali


Bali is often jokingly translated as Banyak Libur, meaning many holidays. It is said no day passes by without a special ceremony is being held. Take a look at the Balinese calendar and include the numerous cycle of life ceremonies (from the conception until the cremation) and you’ll come to the conclusion that this statement is probably true.
The Balinese year counts only 210 days, with 6 Balinese months of 35 days. So annual Balinese celebrations sometimes occur - according to our Gregorian calender - twice a year.
Here is a small selection of the most important collective traditional ceremonies, celebrated all over the island.
 Nyepi day, the day of silence, Balinese Newyear.
On Melasti, the day preceding Nyepi, the people carry huge Ogoh-Ogoh dolls made of bamboo, papier-mache and plastic, personalizing evil demons, in processions through the streets. Meanwhile they make as much noise as possible to lure the malicious spirits into the dolls.  In the evening the more than man-high creations will be burned. Thus evil is banned from Bali, or at least scared away.
The following day is Nyepi day. Everybody stays at home, no sound may be heard and no light may be seen. Even the international airport is closed. Tourists must stay in their hotels, although they can use the normal hotel facilities.
By pretending the island is deserted, the ghosts will not return to annoy the people.


Galungan and Kuningan.
During Galungan, always starting on a Wednesday, the Gods and the ancestors descend to the island and live among the people. Penyor, tall beautifully decorated bamboo poles are placed in front of every house and offerings are made in the house temples to welcome these very very important guests. Schools are closed during this 10-day period and many festivities take place.
The long celebration closes with Hari Kuningan. Usually people start the day making the well-known yellow rice. One more time the Gods and all ancestors are commemorated in the offerings. Finally, around 12 noon, the gods return to their divine residences.
Hari Saraswati
Saraswati is the goddess of education, art and music. Books and holy scripts are piled up and decorated with offerings. The children go to school in their best ceremonial outfits to celebrate this day together with their teachers and peers.
The word means literally “iron fence”. The intention of this day is to reinforce the mental and spiritual defense, so people can surround themselves with a strong fortification against the forces of evil. Pagerwesi is also the day upon which the eternal battle between good and evil is celebrated.
Tumpek Landep


Tumpek Landep day is devoted to the God of metal tools sharp objects and weapons. The celebration is held at every house compound and temple. All metal tools and objects, such as machines, cars, motorbikes, water pumps and power supplies get special blessings and offerings that day in the hope God may help to ensure proper and safe functioning of the equipment. 

In the family temples where heirlooms such as Keris -the traditional dagger- are kept, offerings are made to implore continued magical powers for these precious objects.

Even the Bali police headquarters practice this ritual for their weaponry with a ceremony inside the offices and a bigger one outside at the parking area.

The concept behind this ceremony is to remind people of the importance to keep a sharp mind to distinguish good from evil, lies from truth.

Purnama, full moon.
Full moon is believed to be an excellent day for all kind of ceremonies. The annual temple anniversary is always held on a full moon day each Balinese year.
According to the Balinese every good deed or offering done that day will return to you multiplied a hundred times.
Tilem, new moon.
This day can either turn out good or bad. Malicious spirits are more active during new moon than the good ones, so it needs special offerings to keep them out of the way. Tilem in certain months are auspicious opportunities to celebrate the anniversary of the Temple of Death (Pura Dalem).
Kajeng Kliwon
This day occurs every 15 days and is used for cleaning the minds and the houses from spirits with negative influences, by prayers and offerings.