Bali is one of the most extraordinary places to visit in Indonesia, mainly because of its Balinese-Hindu culture. This Indonesian island is currently preparing for one of their most important festivals called Galungan. Galungan is the first day of this 10-day festival, in which they celebrate ‘good over evil’. Galungan happens every 210 days and, for Balinese-Hindus, it is like Christmas. You will truly see how creative and colourful this culture is.Walking down the streets will be a treat for your eyes, as you will see so many beautiful Penjor. Penjor are tall bamboo poles covered with fruit, leaves and flowers. They are placed outside houses to show gratitude to God Almighty for everything that is available to us on earth.
Galungan means “when Dharma is winning”. The Balinese-Hindu’s are celebrating living a life like Dharma over Adharma. Briefly, it involves an evil giant and a year-long battle between the Gods. This festival is spent making offerings to the gods and holy spirits; some who they believe are closely related to living family members, who come down from the heavens to bless the universe. You will see huge gatherings at the temples and outside houses, with large amounts of food to offer in hope for protection. After they have prayed and completed the ceremonies you can spend the day watching celebrations take place. In Ubud children perform dances, whilst other villages take part in competitions with large bamboo sticks. If you really want to get involved, and like to go off-the-beaten-path, then you can stay with natives in the rural villages. Their homes may be small but their spirits are overwhelming.
Furthermore, if you are in Bali the day before, you will witness how hectic the preparation is for Galungan. They will slaughter a pig to become the temple sacrifice, which symbolizes slaughtering their bad behaviours, thoughts and words, and use it to make a traditional ‘lawar’ dish. This dish is just one of the many meals that make the Indonesian cuisine so delicious. They will cook the pig with satay, jackfruit and a variety of herbs and spices. If this makes your mouth fill with saliva then you will thoroughly enjoy the last day of this festival called Kuningan. Kuningan is derived from the word kuning, which means yellow. Their offerings will include a famous Indonesian dish called Nasi Kuning, which translates to yellow rice. This yellow rice is made with turmeric and lemon grass. It is flavorsome to say the least. On the day of Kuningan the festivities will continue throughout the day, as the gods return to heaven.
It is very easy to spend your days around Bali for the whole 10 days of the festival. Each place you visit offers a different atmosphere. If you truly want to see Balinese-Hindu culture at its best, and one of the most spectacular festivals in Indonesia, then this is a must do.