Bali’s most important festival is the Galungan festival. It is a feast and festival which is held throughout the whole island and an annual event. It is believed that during this ten day period all Balinese gods, including Sanghyang Widi, the supreme deity, will descend to earth for the festivities. Barongs prance from temple to temple and village to village in celebration of the Galungan with the gods. Galungan to the Balinese, is the most important holiday period as it symbolizes the victory of Dharma, or Virtue, upon Adharma, or all that is Evil. The festivities are made extra special by the fitting of ‘penjor’ on the right side of the entrance to every house. A penjor is a tall bamboo pole terrifically decorated with woven young coconut leaves, cakes, fruits and flowers; and also a must for every Balinese household. The Galungan also sees the Balinese decked in their finest clothes and jewels for the day. The last day of the 10-day festival is the most important day. Known as Kuningan, it is the climax of the ten-day Galungan, and also serves to bringing the holiday period to a close. Kuningan is a day for prayer, and a special ritual ceremony is held for the spirits of the Balinese’s ancestors. Just as the Galugan ends with a day of symbolic prayer, its beginning is marked by Pagerwesi. Pagerwesi literally means ‘iron fence’, and on Pagerwesi day every year, ceremonies and prayers are held in supplication for iron-strong mental and spiritual defense in welcoming the Galungan holiday.
“Galungan” by Keith Yahl. CC2