Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Kuningan Celebrations Bali

Having spent the Christmas period in Ubud, Bali we were delighted to find out we had also managed, by pure fluke, to be there over one of their major holidays and celebrations, although this did have a knock on effect of even crazier roads and busier venues than the "normal" craziness of this island!

2014 Kuningan fell on 27 December and this is the last day of the Galungan, 10 days after the start.

offerings basket
Galungan is the celebration of dharma over adharma, good over bad, and is when the cremated ancestors return to earth to visit their former homes. If they are not cremated the family will visit their graves to give blessings. Very similar it seems to the Chinese festival of 7th month (Hungry Ghost festival) Galungan 2014 fell on 17 December, on the 11th week of the Pawukon Balinese calendar, which has just 210 days. Throughout this festival you will see the roads lined with large bamboo poles known as penjor covered in bamboo and palm decorations - an amazing vista looking up the hilly roads.

On these penjors you can see Tamiang which are round, shield like palm decorations which are meant to represent the earth and are supposed to protect and defend. They are also a reminder of karma. You will also see provisions of food, given as offerings, in coconut leaf filled pockets, these are known as Endongan and are food for the ancestors to take back with them on their journey to heaven.
Pigs and chickens will be slaughtered and pork made into satays. Men will also make lawar, a spicy mixture of long beans, coconut, limes, fish sauce and others ingredients. I can testify this is delicious having eaten it most days of the holiday!

Throughout the festival the outside of the houses will be decorated in the vibrant coloured yellow cloths, depicting the Hindu religion and we were told the black and white checked cloths depict good and evil. You never want to do away with evil completely as there has to be a balance between the two.

Throughout Galungan you will see young boys going from house to house and restaurant to restaurant playing instruments and with some dressed as a Barong or ngelwang, which is a lion like creature. The owners will give money to the children/barong and in turn the building will be blessed.

At Kuningan the ancestors spirits return to heaven, 10 days after the start of Galungan. You will see yellow rice as offerings. The name for this yellow rice in Balinese is Kuning meaning yellow, and is meant to give thanks for life, prosperity and health.
On the morning of Kuningan devotees will visit the temple (pura) as this is when the God Ida Sang Hyang Widhi blesses everyone, before returning to heaven in the afternoon.

For us we were able to see everyone, from tiny tots to elderly grandmas dressed up in the finery, woman in kebayas and sarongs, walking or riding motorbikes (albeit sidesaddle due to their tight sarongs) In the morning they were all enroute to their local temple (pura) before spending the afternoon celebrating with their family.

Not only are the temples (pura) and Homes (puri) blessed but so are the people, and also the vehicles, watching how many of them drive I think this is very wise!!

What was amusing was to see the same people the next day, after being dressed so vibrantly and with such care and tradition, scooting around in their normal jeans and t shirts!

The day after Kuningan and the very end of Galungan is known as Manis Kuningan which is when everyone should have FUN!! Sounds like a great idea and they all seemed to :)

The crowds at the festival market at the Royal Temple on Manis Kuningan. I think we can say they are all having fun!

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