Saturday April 21, 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

Right of Nature: Are Rivers Living Beings?

Should rivers be considered Living Entities?

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Right of Nature
Many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

By Dr. Bharti Raizada, Chicago

Science says that water bodies are not living entities, as water does not need food, does not grow, and reproduce. Water is required for life, but in itself it is nonliving.

However, many cultures across the globe believe that rivers are living beings or Gods/Goddesses and they just take the form of water bodies.

The Maori tribe in New Zealand considers the Whanganui River as their ancestor and the Maori people fought to get it a legal status as a living being. In 2017, a court in New Zealand gave this river the status of living being and same rights as humans, to protect it from pollution. Thus, now if someone pollutes in it then it is considered equivalent to harming a human.

ALSO READ: Worshiping mother nature part of our tradition: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Right of Nature
Rivers are sacred in many religions, including Hinduism. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

Rivers are sacred in Hinduism also. Hindus believe that the Ganga descended from heaven and call her Ganga Maa. A few days after New Zealand’s court decision, Uttarakhand high court in India gave the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries the status of living human entities. The Court-appointed three officials as legal custodians. However, the court did not clarify many aspects related to this decision.

After this verdict some of the questions, which naturally came to mind, were:

Can Hindus still do rituals of flowing ashes, leaves, flowers, diyas in river or no? Can a dam be built on the river after this judgment? If some damage, to a person, animal, plants, or property, occurs because of river e.g. overflow, hurricanes, flooding etc., how the river will pay the liabilities? What if all rivers, oceans, ponds etc. are given the status of living beings? Will drinking water from river become a crime? What about taking water and using it for routine needs,  agriculture or building structures? Will it be illegal? If a child throws a stone in water, will it be a criminal act? Will fishing be considered stealing? What about boating? If someone is using heat near water and water evaporates, is it equal to taking the body part of a human being? What about taking a bath in the river?

Right of Nature
If the river gets a living status, as human, then we cannot use it for anything without its permission, so everyone has to stop touching the water. Image courtesy: Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: Decoding supernatural: What is the nature of entities and gods who influence human behavior

Other queries, which arise, are:

Will animals and plants get the same status? What if you kill an ant or a chicken etc. or cut a tree? Will all animals and plants get a legal custodian?

Where is all the waste supposed to go? It has to go somewhere back in nature, right?

Uttrakhand state government challenged the judgement in Supreme Court and the latter reversed the judgment.

Right of Nature
So where do we stand? In my opinion, granting living status to nature is a different thing than giving protected status or preserving nature. Image by Dr. Bharti Raizada

ALSO READ: How nature destroys the negative tendencies in a positive manner

Ecuador’s constitution recognized the Right of Nature to exist, specifically Vilcabamba river, in 2008.

Then Bolivia passed the law of the right of mother earth and granted Nature equal rights as humans.

Many communities in the U.S.A. passed the Right of Nature law.

These laws are creating a dilemma or quandary also, as people need to use these resources. We cannot live without using natural resources. However, there is a difference between using natural resources and afflicting or destroying these. So, please use natural resources very diligently. Try not to vitiate nature.

On World Water Day (March 22), please start taking care of rivers, so that there is no need for future celebrations. It should not be a one-day celebration anyway, we should scrupulously look out for nature all the time.

Dr. Raizada is a practicing anesthesiologist.