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A Celebration of Ancestral Harmony: Unveiling the Traditions of Galungan in Bali

Umat Hindu menghaturkan sesajen saat persembahyangan Hari Raya Galungan di Pura Jagatnatha, Denpasar, Bali, 8 Juni 2022.
Umat Hindu menghaturkan sesajen saat persembahyangan Hari Raya Galungan di Pura Jagatnatha, Denpasar, Bali, 8 Juni 2022. /Antara/Fikri Yusuf

PIKIRAN RAKYAT - The vibrant island of Bali in Indonesia is a melting pot of culture and tradition. Among its many unique ceremonies, Galungan holds immense significance. Celebrated every 210 days according to the Balinese Saka calendar, Galungan marks a victory of Dharma (righteousness) over Adharma (chaos). This ten-day celebration is a time for Balinese Hindus to honor their ancestors, strengthen family bonds, and seek spiritual renewal. This article delves into the core traditions and symbolism associated with Galungan, offering a glimpse into this fascinating Balinese festival.

Galungan is steeped in the Hindu belief in the cyclical nature of life and death, and the importance of maintaining harmony between the physical and spiritual realms. During this period, it's believed that ancestral spirits descended from the heavens to visit the earthly plane and reconnect with their living descendants. Families prepare elaborate offerings and engage in various rituals to welcome these spirits and ensure their peaceful return to the divine realm. The celebratory atmosphere of Galungan reflects the joy of reuniting with ancestors and seeking their blessings for prosperity and well-being.

A Journey Through Tradition: Exploring the Key Elements of Galungan

The ten days of Galungan are marked by a series of distinct traditions and customs, each with its own unique purpose and symbolism. Preparations begin days before the official start, with families cleaning their homes, preparing special offerings, and creating decorative elements that will adorn their homes and villages. Here's a closer look at some key aspects of the Galungan ceremony:

  1. Penjor
    One of the most recognizable symbols of Galungan is the penjor. These colorful bamboo poles are adorned with offerings like woven coconut leaves, flowers, and sometimes food items. They are erected in front of homes and temples, creating a festive atmosphere throughout the island. The penjor represents a bridge between the earthly and divine realms, welcoming the ancestral spirits and signifying the commencement of the festivities.

  2. Melasti
    This purification ritual marks the official beginning of Galungan. Participants, often dressed in white, gather at sacred springs, beaches, or temples, to cleanse themselves and their offerings in a symbolic washing away of negativity. Melasti signifies spiritual renewal and prepares both the physical and spiritual realms for the arrival of the ancestors.

  3. Penampahan
    The mid-point of the celebration focuses on warding off evil spirits and negative influences. Families prepare special offerings and create loud noises using bamboo instruments or temple bells. This practice, known as "mecaru," is believed to drive away malevolent forces and ensure a peaceful environment for the ancestral spirits.

  4. Pawai
    This vibrant procession showcases the artistic and cultural essence of Bali. Villagers dress in traditional attire and participate in parades featuring music, dance performances, and colorful floats. Pawai serves as a joyous celebration of life, a way to honor the ancestors, and a display of community spirit.

  5. Kuningan
    The ten-day festivities culminate in Kuningan, a day dedicated to the farewell of the ancestral spirits. Families make final offerings and perform rituals to ensure their ancestors' safe return to the celestial realm. Kuningan is a more subdued day compared to the earlier festivities, reflecting the bittersweet emotions of farewell.

The traditions of Galungan offer a unique window into Balinese culture and spirituality. It's a time for families to come together, honor their ancestors, and celebrate the ongoing cycle of life. The vibrant decorations, lively processions, and heartfelt rituals showcase the deep respect and connection that Balinese Hindus hold for their departed loved ones.

While rooted in religious beliefs, Galungan transcends religious boundaries and serves as a beautiful illustration of the importance of family, tradition, and spiritual connection. (Politeknik Negeri Bandung/Sintia Yuliana)***

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  • A Journey Through Tradition: Exploring the Key Elements of Galungan

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