Bali is not just about its great beaches. Exposures in local culture and festivals in Bali are also an unforgettable treat for tourists and vacationers. The island is alive with a number of colorful annual events, mostly religious in nature. Bali’s most important religious festival is the 10-day Galungan Festival. This annual event is about the triumph of Dharma, representing good, over Adharma, representing evil. The festival is observed all over the island, celebrating the visitation of Balinese gods. Devotees and locals believe that during Galungan, their gods, including the supreme god, Sanghyang Widi, come down to earth to mingle with humans in feasting and merrymaking. And to celebrate the coming of the gods, devotees march from village to village and temple to temple, and each home puts up a penjor, a tall bamboo pole that is decorated with young coconut leaves, flowers, fruits, and cakes. And to make the event more special, the Balinese people dress up in fine clothes decked with several pieces of jewelry.
The tenth or last day of Galungan is known as Kuningan, a day dedicated to prayer and special rituals for the spirits of the Balinese ancestors. This is an appropriate climax since the festival also began with a prayer called Pagerwesi on the first day.
Another important event is the Balinese New Year called Nyepi, which is a day of total silence, perhaps the only religious ritual in the world that is celebrated by being quiet. Celebrated anytime from mid-March to early April depending on the Saka Calendar Year, there is completely no activity during Nyepi, all establishments are closed, traffic is closed, and everything else shuts down. The silence is a symbol of sacrifice and purification to drive away evil spirits from all corners of the island.
Another major religious observance is the Saraswati, which commemorates God’s act of manifesting himself as a female god – the Dewi Saraswati, the intelligent and mystifying Goddess of Knowledge, Arts and Literature. This one-day festival is highlighted by the blessing and giving of special offering to the Wedas, religious manuscripts, and books of knowledge.
Above are just three of the most major religious events in Bali. The Balinese are very religious, cultural and devoted to their beliefs. It seems as though there are festivals and events going on every day. Most of their festivals have been influenced by Hinduism, and this is evident also in other aspects of their culture such as art, music, drama, and costumes.
Temple festivals happen every 210 days while the rest depend on the ancient Balinese calendars, which are the Saka and Wuku Calendars. There are newer and non-religious festivals such as the Annual Arts Festival, which celebrates the unique Balinese art and cultural achievements. It runs along the national Kite Festival. The provincial government initiates a number of annual festivals to maintain the island’s rich culture and promote everything about Bali to the rest of the world. They prove that there are no other Balis out there, but just one unique island in Indonesia.