Galungan is the most important feast for Balinese Hindus, a celebration to honor the creator of the universe (Ida Sang Hyang Widi) and the spirits of the honored ancestors. The festival symbolizes the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma) and encourages the Balinese to show their gratitude to the creator and sainted ancestors.
Offerings to the Ancestors
Galungan occurs twice a year in the 210-day cycle of the Balinese calendar and marks the time of the year when the spirits of the ancestors are believed to visit the earth. Balinese Hindus perform rituals that are meant to welcome and entertain these returning spirits. The house compounds that make up the nucleus of Balinese society come alive with devotions offered by the families living within. Families offer bountiful sacrifices of food and flowers to the ancestral spirits, expressing gratitude and hopes for protection. These sacrifices are also offered at local temples, which are packed with devotees bringing their offerings.
The Balinese believe that Kuningan day is the day when their ancestors return to heaven after visiting the earth during Galungan celebration. They make offerings to be given to the ancestors on their farewell day. The offerings include yellowed rice (Kuningan is derived from the word kuning which means yellow) which is placed in a small "bowl" made of coconut leaves. Other common offerings a seeds, fish and fruit like papaya and cucumber. The yellow rice is the symbol of human's gratitude towards God for all the life, joy, wealth, health and prosperity given. The bowls are decorated with a small figures of shadow puppets which represents angels that bring joy and wealth to earth.
Nyepi Day in Bali is a New Year celebration unlike anywhere else on the planet. Bali’s celebrates the Saka New Year as the Bali Day of Silence, an ultimately quietest day of the year, when all of the island's inhabitants abide by a set of local rules, which brings all routine activities to a complete halt. Roads all over Bali are void of any traffic and nobody steps outside of their home premises.
Most Balinese and visitors regard it as a much-anticipated occasion. Some expats and those coming from neighbouring islands prefer escaping Bali for the day rather, due to restrictions that surround the observance. Some visitors check coinciding dates ahead before their Bali trip, avoiding it altogether. Anyhow, Nyepi is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime, especially since the preceding and following days offer rare highlights to behold!