Wednesday January 24, 2018

Hinduism in Bali: Know about Galungan and Kuningan

On this day, spirits of the ancestors return from heaven

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Galungan and Kuningan Wikimedia Commons
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Wandering in the streets of Indonesia, one can truly feel the essence of celebrations through festivals. Be it temples, Homes or villages, one is likely to see a spectral display of processions or ceremonies going on. One of them is Galungan which lasts for 10 days with the day of Kuningan. According to Balinese Hinduism, Galungan is considered to be one of the most auspicious festivals in Balinese culture.

Brief History: Roots of Hinduism in Indonesia

According to the legend, Galungan is all about celebrating the victory of Lord Indra over the Balinese king, known as Mayadenawa. The Balinese king denied worship of Hinduism in his territory. Battles continued until finally Lord Indra (the Hindu god of rain and thunder) descended from heaven and defeated the king.

The legendary site where the rebel king was traced and killed by Indra’s magic arrow turned into a freshwater spring (currently also known as Tirta Empul Temple). Balinese armies honoured Indra, celebrating the defeat of the king as Galungan (the day of victory of dharma over adharma). An official death of the mighty king was declared 10 days later, also known as Kuningan (meaning ‘to announce’).The bamboo poles which adds to the beauty of this festival is a mark of upheld Hinduism.

Related article: How India has influenced Indonesia through ages

Balinese cultural display: It’s Galungan and Kuningan time

The 10 day period of Galungan is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Bali. The whole Island explodes into different shades of cultural display.

  • This is celebrated according to the 210-day Balinese calendar (known as Pawukon). Celebrations start in February and the whole schedule is repeated in the month of September again.
  • Preparations begin weeks in advance. It requires a significant amount of time and money for performing all the ceremonies.
  • Large decorative Bamboo poles (also known as Penjor) are put in front of homes and all over the island. Fruits, flowers, young coconut leaves and all another form of offerings are embedded with these poles.
  • On the eve, the men of households display their artistic works at each household gates. This leads to a captivating view throughout all roads.
  • On the final day, Kuningan is celebrated. Balinese believe that on this day spirits of the ancestors return from heaven. So, local Hindus perform rituals in order to entertain these returning spirits.
  • People wear their finest clothes and yellow turmeric rice is prepared. Various sacred dance performances and rituals are performed, attracting people from all over the island.
Bamboo offerings during Galungan Wikimedia Commons
Bamboo offerings during Galungan
Wikimedia Commons

Important dates: Before and after Galungan

  • 3 days before : Penyekeban – Covering of green bananas for ripening)
  • 2 days before : Penyajaan – Making of fried rice cakes (locally known as “Jaja”)
  • 1 day before : Penampahan – Slaughtering of animals (usually pigs)
  • Galungan Day : Visting temples, performing rituals, making offerings and prayers
  • 1 day after : Manis Galungan – Visiting friends, families and neighbours
  • 10 days after : Kuningan – Preparing yellow rice offerings and temples hopping.

Ngelawang Ceremony

This is another ceremony which occurs in villages during Galungan. This is performed by “Barong” (a mythical beast and protector). Accompanied by Balinese children and gamelan music, the Barong parades all over the village. It is believed that this restores the balance of good and evil. Offerings such as Canang sari are made as the Barong visits each home.

Barong dance Wikimedia Commons
Barong dance
Wikimedia Commons

 

During this festive season, one can feel the positive vibes emanating from all over the place. This is a great time for outsiders to pay a visit for the first time and have a taste of Balinese culture.

Prepared by Pritam. Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata. A simple person who tries to innovate and improvise himself. Twitter @pritam_gogreen

 

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  • Pragya Jha

    Balinese Hinduism is practiced by majority of population in Bali. Balinese Hindus worship a range of unique deities.

  • Maximus Decimus

    wow this is great ,Bharat & Indonesia are very rich cultural states flourishing on Hinduism ,

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Galungan celebrates the death of a legendary tyrant called Mayadenawa. It is believed that, during this 10 day period, all the gods come down to earth for the festivities.

  • Pragya Jha

    Balinese Hinduism is practiced by majority of population in Bali. Balinese Hindus worship a range of unique deities.

  • Maximus Decimus

    wow this is great ,Bharat & Indonesia are very rich cultural states flourishing on Hinduism ,

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Galungan celebrates the death of a legendary tyrant called Mayadenawa. It is believed that, during this 10 day period, all the gods come down to earth for the festivities.

Next Story

All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu, Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.