There’s a place in Bali where you can see live the Indonesian State motto “Unity in Diversity”.
This place is in Nusa Dua, on east side of Bukit peninsula, and is called Puja Mandala literally “place of worship”. Here all of the religions officialy recognized by the Indonesian State are well represented: a mosque, a catholic church, a buddhist temple, a protestant church and a hinduist temple share the same area. They are one beside others and express tolerance and harmony between the different religions.
Kuningan day is celebrated every 210 days, ten days after Galungan.
The Balinese believe that Kuningan day is the day when their ancestors return to heaven after visiting the earth during Galungan celebration. They make offerings to be given to the ancestors on their farewell day. The offerings include yellowed rice (Kuningan is derived from the word kuning which means yellow) which is placed in a small “bowl” made of coconut leaves. Other common offerings are seeds, fish and fruit like papaya, banana and cucumber. The yellow rice is the symbol of human’s gratitude towards God for all the life, joy, wealth, health and prosperity given. The bowls are decorated with a small figures of shadow puppets which represents angels that bring joy and wealth to earth.
On Kuningan day you can see tamiang and endongan decorations hanging outside homes and temples.
Tamiang means shield is formed as a round and represents protection, defense, and the cycle of the globe. It functions as a reminder to humans of karma and that they should protect themselves from bad behavior.
Endongan means bag of provisions. It is made of coconut leaves and shaped like a bag or a pocket. The Balinese put different things like seeds, fruits, tuber inside the endongan. People see it is a symbol of food supply for the journey of the ancestors from earth to heaven.
In Balinese Galungan means victory. It is said to be the day when goodness won the battle against badness. Galungan is celebrated to remind humans that they should always fight the battle against bad habit, evil desires and inappropriate behaviors. This important Hindu ceremony is celebrated every 210 days according to the Pawukon Calendar (Balinese calendar containing only 210 days and depending of Moon phases). During this period the Balinese Gods visits the islands.
The most noticeable characteristic of Galungan is a decoration called penjor. Penjors are
large bamboo pols decorated with coconut leaves, fruits, seeds, tubers, and coconuts which represent the content of nature and you’ll se penjors raised outside the Balinese homes.
Galungan is a sequence of celebrations starting withh Sugihan Jawa and ends with Kuningan Day. On Sugihan Jawa, six days before Galungan Day, the Balinese make offerings to purify the universe.
The next day, they make offerings to purify themselves; this is called Sugihan Bali.
Three days before Galungan is called Penyekeban, spiritually it means to keep your mind away from evil entities called Butha Galungan.
The day two days before Galungan is called Penyajaan, literally it means making offering cookies; spiritually it means to focus your mind (through meditation).
The day before Galungan is called Penampahan-a Balinese word which means slaughter. Some people usually slaughter pig as a symbol of laziness and other bad habits and use the meats for offerings given to the evil entities so that they won’t annoy the harmony of the universe.
On Galungan Day itself, the Balinese make offerings, decorate their houses and temples, the whole family is usually gathered and pray and visit temples together.
The day after Galungan is called Umanis Galungan; is considered as quality time for family gathering, balinese usually go visiting their relatives this day or spend time with family.
The day ten days after is called Kuningan, and indicates the end of Galungan celebrations.
We already talked about Nyepi but do you know what happens in Bali on the eve of Nyepi? Demons walk in the street.
Don’t be scared, just follow them and enjoy the Ogoh-ogoh parade.
Ogoh-ogoh are statues built for the Pengrupukan night parade, which takes place on the eve of Nyepi. The main purpose of making an Ogoh-ogoh is to purify the natural environment of any spiritual pollutants emitted from the activities of living beings (especially humans). By parading Ogoh-ogoh and, in the end, burn or destroy it, it is expected that those bad energies could be kept away from human race.
Each banjar usually build one Ogoh-ogoh, but often some smaller Ogoh-Ogoh are also built by groups of children around the village. Ogoh-ogoh is made of light materials such as wood, bamboo, paper, and Styrofoam (lately Styrofoam is less used to be more eco-friendly) so it is easy to be lifted and paraded, normally standing on a pad of timber planks and bamboos as well. During the parade, accompanied by Gamelan performed by the youth, the Ogoh-ogoh is rotated counter-clockwise three times at every T-junction and crossroad of the village. This rotation representing the contact of the bodies with the spirits. It is intended to bewilder the evil spirits so that they go away and cease harming human beings.
The Ogoh-Ogoh parade ends with a show in front of the judges: all of the lifters and their crews represent a theme from Ramayana or other Hindu stories by dancing and acting to tell the story of their Ogoh-ogoh.
Next 28th March will be Nyepi, one of the most important day in Bali: it’s the first day of the year 1939 according to Balinese calendar and is well known as the Day of Silence.
Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. of the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted so no lighting fires, no light, no working, no entertainment or pleasure, no traveling and, for some, no talking or eating at all. Also the international airport is shutted down for one day. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s streets and roads are empty, there is no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people who are allowed to go outside are Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.
From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self introspection to decide on values, humanity, love, patience, kindness, that should kept forever. Balinese Hindus have many kind of celebrations, some sacred days, but Nyepi is, perhaps, the most important of the island’s religious days and the prohibitions are taken seriously.
The celebrations begin four days before Nyepi with Melasti ceremony and, on the eve of Nyepi, with the Ogoh-Ogoh parade.
Nyepi day has made Bali a unique island. During the day you have no noise except the sound of nature and during the night you have no light except the shining of stars.
If you have a chance to be here on that day you will never forget it for the rest of your life.
Located in the south of the airport The Bukit (as it is commonly referred to) is a large limestone peninsula, rugged and dry. Here you can find the most beautiful beaches of the island, famous surf spots, breathtaking sunset view and Pura Luhur Uluwatu, the famous cliff-hanging temple, one of the nine directional temple of Bali. The two main towns with strong local communities on the Bukit peninsula are Pecatu and Ungasan.
All beaches of the Bukit peninsula have white sand and crystal water. Many of them are popular surf spots, famous all over the world. Balangan beach, Bingin, Dreamland, Padang Padang and Uluwatu beach are well known in the surfers community.
Bukit peninsula’s beaches are also suitable for relax. Jimbaran, Pandawa, Labuan Sait and Geger beach are fully equipped with sunbeds and umbrella making those beaches the ideal choice for family with children. Your kids (and, why not, you too) can enjoy some water activities such as kayak and stand up paddleboard. Don’t worry about food, the pretty local restaurant just on the beach can serve you fresh and tasty dishes and healthy drinks like young coconuts and fruit smoothie.
Exploring the Bukit peninsula lends itself very well to a rent motorbike. A number of the nicer beaches are reached via small roads or dirt tracks and a motorbike is the best method, also to avoid traffic jam.
Are you thinking on a holiday in Asia and you can’t take a decision about your destination? We’ll help you! Here is at least 7 good reasons to choose Bali:
1 Hindu Temples
Balinese Hinduism is very different from Indian Hinduism as it incorporates a strong local animism, ascribing divine qualities to objects, places or material beings. In every village you will find at least three temples: “pura Puseh” (temple of the origin), “pura desa” (temple of the village) at the center of the daily activities area, and “pura dalem” (temple of the dead). The nine directional temples, designed to protect the island and its inhabitants from dark forces, are the largest and famous one. For Balinese people, the “mother temple” of Besakih on the slopes of Mount Agung is the most important of all because the volcano is considered holy.
Every decorative or structural element that you will see in a Balinese temple has a specific function of earthly or spiritual nature.
2 Typical cuisine
Whatever your food lifestyle is, here you will find a wide choice of dishes and ingredients. Balinese cuisine is rich in spices and vegetables, so vegetarians and vegans you will feel comfortable. There are dishes of meat and fish for omnivores. The most popular dishes are nasi goreng (fried rice with vegetables, spices and usually chicken), babi guling (suckling pig), nasi campur (rice with side of your choice). There is also a great choice of street food such as sate (chicken, pork or goat grilled on a skewer), bakso (soup of chicken, pork or beef meatball), gorengan (deep-fried vegetables, tofu or bananas).
3 Breathtaking landscapes
With a tour of the island you will have the chance to see different landscapes that will take your breath away: wide rice fields, volcanoes, lakes and beaches of black or white sand.
Also wandering around in small villages will be weird, you can feel you are living in another world where time has stopped. You could see a wood craftsman who works on his creation, women washing clothes in the river, children playing in the street with rocks. Probably attention that you will dedicate to them will be given back: there are still many villages in Bali, away from the tourist tracks, where a visitor causes emotion and laughter.
4 Relaxing massages
Balinese massage is now practiced throughout the world, but having it in the place where it originates is definitely a different experience. Treat yourself to an hour of relax, relying on an experienced person, eventually with a lush forest landscape or by the sea.
5 Hindu Rituals
Every aspect of Balinese people’s life is permeated by religion. The most striking example is the presence of canang sari, baskets of banana leaves containing flowers, rice, biscuits but also cigarettes and coins, with a stick of incense. You will mostly see them in the street, at intersections, in front of the entrance to restaurants, shops, places of work: it is a small donation to protect the most popular places, which is repeated several times during the day. There are also a lot of family ceremonies celebrated for different reasons: balinese birthday, temple’s anniversary,full moon.
You may have the chance to see them in the street, at the beach or in temples.
6 Dance Shows
Dance and music are important attractions for visitors who are part of the Balinese culture. With or without gamelan orchestra, traditional dances have great and intense visual impact, don’t lose the chance to see them. The most famous are: Barong dance, Kecak and fire dance and Legong Keraton dance.
7 Many beaches
Sometimes it happen to read on the web “if you are looking for beautiful beaches don’t go to Bali.” Here, we would like to say this is not true! If you are expecting the reef along the coast you are wrong, but you can find wide beaches of white sand and clear water here, if that’s what interests you. Just go to the Bukit Peninsula and spend some days for exploring them. If you are interested in snorkeling or diving the best area is the North of the island.