Friday January 19, 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

10 Facts about Madhubani Paintings which will blow your mind

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station.

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A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Painting in black and white. Wikimedia Commons

Madhubani Paintings, also known as Mithila Paintings are the quintessence folk art form of Mithila Region of Bihar. The art form is incredibly old and the name ‘Madhubani’ which means, ‘forest of honey,’ has a lineage of more than 2500 years.These paintings are the local art of Madhubani district of Bihar, which is also the biggest exporter of Madhubani paintings in India.

Recently, Madhubani painting style came into limelight after some artists decided to renovate the Madhubani Railway Station by painting a huge Madhubani painting on the walls of the railway station. The painting spans across an area of 7000 square feet and is expected to attract tourism to the Madhubani District. Madhubani art has received international and national attention in recent times.

Paintings and art are a reflection of the culture and tradition of the place from where they originate. Madhubani paintings are an important part of the Indian Culture. Madhubani painting in black and white are some of the oldest and most beautiful art that people can witness and admire. The style, which was losing its importance earlier is once again emerging as a major art form.

A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common
A modern representation of Madhubani art form. Wikimedia Common

Here are 10 facts about Madhubani paintings which will blow your mind :

  • The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the days of Ramayana. The history of Madhubani paintings dates back to the time of Ramayana when king Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his daughter Sita with prince Rama. He commissioned craftsmen to decorate the entire kingdom with Madhubani art on the auspicious occasion of his daughter’s marriage. That’s one of the earliest mentions of Madhubani paintings that can be found in ancient scriptures and text.
  • Madhubani Paintings have 5 distinct styles to delight our eyes. Madhubani art has five distinctive styles, namely, Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar. In ancient times, Bharni, Kachni and Tantrik style were done by Brahman and Kayastha women, who were considered ‘upper caste.’ Their themes were mainly religious and depicted Gods and Goddesses, flora and fauna. People belonging to lower castes including aspects of their daily life and symbols into their paintings.Nowadays, however, Madhubani has become a globalised art form. There is no difference in the work of different artists of different regions or castes.
  • Madhubani paintings are done using different kinds of everyday materials. In past, Madhubani painting was done using fingers, twigs. Now, matchsticks and pen nibs are also used. Usually, bright colours are used in these paintings with an outline made from rice paste as its framework. These paintings rarely have any blank spaces. Borders are often embellished with geometric and floral patterns. These paintings use natural dyes. For example, Madhubani paintings in black and white often use charcoal and soot for the black colour.
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
A Madhubani Paintings can be made using different materials on different mediums. Wikimedia Commons
  • Madhubani art is characterised by symbols and figures. Madhubani paintings are characterised by figures that are prominently outlined, like bulging fish-like eyes and pointed noses. The themes of Madhubani paintings usually include natural elements like fish, birds, animals, turtle, sun, moon, bamboo trees and flowers, like a lotus. Love, valour, devotion, fertility, and prosperity are often symbolized by geometric patterns, which is another important feature of this art form.
  • From Mud-Walls to Canvas. Earlier, Madhubani paintings were made by women on freshly plastered mud-walls of their houses during religious occasions. The skill has been passed onto from one generation to another. Today, this artwork can be found on an international platform on mediums like cloth, paper, canvas, paper-mache products, etc.
  • Discovered and brought to attention by William G. Archer. Madhubani paintings, though prominent in India, were unknown to the outside world until a colonizer, William G. Archer found them. While he was inspecting the damage after the massive earthquake of  Bihar in 1934, Archer was amazed when he discovered the beautiful illustrations on the interior walls of the huts. He decided to bring the attention of other colonizers to this art form and introduced it internationally.

    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings are made without sketches. Wikimedia Common
  • Madhubani is an Instinctive Art Form. Madhubani art is created without the use of sketches, they are made instinctively by the artists. This feature not only makes Madhubani paintings unique but also incredibly exclusive.
  • Madhubani painting also prevents Deforestation. Surprised? This folk art is not just mere decorations on the wall, it is also used for worship. Artists in Bihar draw paintings depicting Hindu deities on trees and those who hold strong religious beliefs, prevent others from chopping those trees down. This plays a big role in preventing trees from being cut down.
  • The Connection with Feng shui. Madhubani paintings use symbols and geometric figures which have a strong association with the Feng Shui philosophy. The use of flowers, especially the lotus, birds,  fishes, and turtles which we find in Madhubani paintings, are closely linked to the concept of divinity and spirituality in Feng Shui. Madhubani painting is believed to bring with them, the benefits of Feng Shui as well.

    Madhubani painting rarely has any spaces. Wikimedia Common
    Madhubani paintings rarely have any empty spaces. Wikimedia Common
  • The Importance of Sun in Madhubani. Since ancient times, the sun has always been an important symbol of nature worship. The Sun also occupies such an important place in the Madhubani paintings. There are paintings wholly dedicated to the Sun, in which it can be seen painted in different moods and colours. Every Madhubani home has one painting of the Sun which they worship daily.