Indonesia FESTIVAL MUST-SEE: GALUNGAN AND KUNINGAN EXPERIENCE GA LUNGAN A ND KUNI N GAN
May 30, 2018 (Galungan) and June 9, 2018 (Kuningan)
Galungan commemorates the triumph of Dharma (good) over Adharma (evil) – a victory that involved Indra, the Hindu god of thunder, and the Balinese king Mayadenawa, who denied his people the right to Hindu worship. Battles raged, but given Mayadenawa’s supernatural powers to transform himself into animals and objects, no one could defeat the evil king, until Indra stepped in.
Defeated, Mayadenawa fled into the jungle, trying to obscure his footprints, but he was pursued and killed by one of Indra’s magic arrows. Today, the site where he died – a freshwater spring – is where the Tirta Empul Temple is situated; the temple’s name translates to “slanting footprints”; the Balinese honour the defeat of evil Mayadenawa through Galungan.
Nyepi – the Balinese “Day of Silence” – is the biggest festival on the island, but Galungan is more vibrant. It also marks the time when ancestral spirits return to Earth. The streets are lined with bamboo poles decorated with coconut leaf decorations and fruits, signifying Indra’s success in upholding Hinduism and wisdom. Devotees in colourful traditional clothing make offerings of fruits and flowers at temples and family shrines all over the island.
The last day of the celebration is Kuningan, when the dead return to the spirit world. To mark the end of the festival, devotees make offerings of yellow turmeric rice. A series of sacred dance performances and rituals are then performed, concluding the tenday festival.