The Balinese way of life revolves around an array of celebrations and ceremonies that take place throughout the year. While some celebrations are observed island-wide, like Nyepi, others are unique to specific regions, such as Nyepi Laut on the Nusa Penida islands
Why not plan your travels to Bali to coincide with one of these special events? It’s an excellent way to gain insight into the vibrant Balinese culture. And the people of Nusa Penida would be delighted to welcome you.
The two balinese calendars in Bali
The ceremonies, celebrations and events follow two different calendars used by the Balinese:
- The Pawukon calendar, whose year consists of only 210 days
- The Saka calendar, which comes from the Indian system. Each month begins with the new moon, occasion for great ceremonies.
The main celebrations in Bali
Odalan celebrates the coming of the gods on each anniversary of the foundation of each temple. It takes place every 210 days since the foundation of the temple (once per year of the Pawukon then). Thus, the date is different for each temple. Some Odalan ceremonies last only 1 to 3 days, while others can last up to a month. Once the main religious ceremony is over, Odalan becomes more of a social occasion to meet its neighbors.
Galungan et Kuningan celebrations
Galungan celebrates the creation of the universe, the victory of the good, Dharma, against the evil, Adharma. The celebrations always take place on a Wednesday. The celebrations preparations start on the previous Monday, with the preparation of the cakes that will serve as offerings. Then, on Tuesday, men prepare the festive dinner (they kill pigs, to turn them into kebabs and blood sausages) and women prepare the offerings. Each house has to install a Penjor , a huge bamboo pole with colorfull offerings, before Penampahan day, the day before Galungan.
These festivities last 10 days and come to an end with Kuningan, which celebrates purification. On that same day, the ancestors’ souls are leaving their family’s temple.
Upcoming Galungan/Kuningan dates in Bali are :
- January 4 & 14 2023
- August 2 & 12 2023
- February 28 & March 9 2024
Saraswati celebrates the goddess of knowledge. The children, who pray and bring offerings to the temple of their school, mainly celebrate it. The Balinese also pay homage to the goddess and books by sprinkling holy water.
Upcoming Saraswati dates in Bali are :
- 20 May 2023
- 16 December 2023
- 13 July 2024
Pagerwesi is the festival to spiritual strengthening and development of individuals’ forces against evil. Pager means : bareer and Wesi : metal. Therefore it means that everyone must surround themselves with strong fortifications against the forces of evil. All Balinese place offerings at their family temple and at other temples in order to be protected from any negative element.
Upcoming Pagerwesi dates in Bali are :
- 24 May 2023
- 20 December 2023
- 17 July 2024
Every 35 days, the Balinese make offerings to items or valuable property :
- Music instruments, masks and outfits used during ceremonies (Tumpek Krulut) : 18 February 2023, 16 September 2023
- Pets and especially cattle (Tumpek Kandang) : 25 March 2023, 21 October 2023
- Puppets (Tupek Wayang) : 29 April 2023, 25 November 2023
- Iron objects such as cars, motorbikes, televisions, knives… (Tumpek Landep) : 3 June 2023, 30 December 2023
- And trees (Tumpek Uduh) : 8 July 2023
On the day of Kajeng Kliwon the Hindu people of Bali purify themselves in order to receive strength and power. This day is also auspicious for the pamusapati, a ceremony in which the spirit is invited into sacred objects such as the barong, the rangda, the mask, the amulets, the kris etc. to give them spiritual power.
There are two Kajeng Kliwon: Kajeng Kliwon Uwudan and Kajeng Kliwon Enyitan. Kajeng Kliwon Uwudan neutralizes the negative powers and Kajeng Kliwon Enyitan increases the positive powers.
The rituals of both ceremonies are based on sincerity and honesty.
Here are Kajeng Kliwon’s next dates:
Kajeng Kliwon Uwudan: March 15, 2023, April 14, 2023, May 14, 2023, June 13, 2023, July 13, 2023, August 12, 2023, September 11, 2023, October 11, 2023, November 10, 2023, December 10, 2023
Kajeng Kliwon Enyitan: February 28, 2023, March 30, 2023, April 29, 2023, May 29, 2023, June 28, 2023, July 28, 2023, August 27, 2023, September 26, 2023, October 26, 2023, November 25, 2023, December 25, 2023
Nyepi is the Balinese New Year (of the Saka calendar). It takes place in March or April according on the Balinese calendar.
It corresponds to a day of silence, meditation, in order to refocus and liberate the minds from negative emotions. This silence is supposed to convince demons that the island is deserted, so that they will not come back to disturb its inhabitants.
What happens during Nyepi in Bali ?
During Nyepi, the entire island of Bali shuts down, and people are not allowed to leave their homes, hotels, or villas. All businesses are closed, and no lights, music, or noise is allowed. Even the airport is closed for the day. But public services, such as hospitals and fire departments, remain open for emergencies.
Pecalang, traditional security officers, patrol the streets to ensure the peace and serenity of Nyepi is maintained. There is therefore no light or sound pollution, which means ideal conditions to meditate and watch the stars ! But you need to book the right hotel or resort that will offer you food and drinks.
Nyepi, is preceded by Melasti, which is celebrated throughout the whole island of Bali. It corresponds to the great purification. On this occasion, the Balinese go to the sea or to a natural water source to purify their bodies and their sacred objects. But the day before Nyepi, the main road junctions receive large offerings supposed to exorcise evil spirits.
The Ogoh Ogoh parade
What is the Ogoh Ogoh festival ? The day before Nyepi, known as Ngrupuk, people take to the streets to make noises to ward off evil spirits. Tourists can enjoy watching the Balinese people parade around with handmade floats depicting demons and evil spirits called ogoh-ogoh. Cymbals and firecrackers accompany the procession to frighten off evil spirits.
Do and don’t during Nyepi in Bali
To respect the culture and tradition of Nyepi, visitors and residents are advised to follow these dos and don’ts strictly.
- Respect the customs and traditions of Nyepi, which is a sacred day for the Balinese people
- Stay inside your accommodation or villa, and use this time for self-reflection, meditation or relaxation
- If your hotel do not provide food during Nyepi, be prepared with enough food and drinks to last the entire day .
- Since ATMs usually go offline on the day before Nyepi, it’s a good idea to withdraw cash in advance just in case.
- Book your accommodations early as many hotels and villas get fully booked during Nyepi.
- During the days leading up to Nyepi, you may encounter street closures for traditional ceremonies. If this happens, please be patient and find an alternative route. Avoid arguing with security officers.
- To show respect for the tradition of Nyepi, turn off all lights and electronic devices, especially if they’re visible from the outside.
- Violate the restrictions of Nyepi by leaving your accommodation or villa, making noise, or using any form of transportation
- Take photographs or videos during Nyepi, which is considered disrespectful and intrusive
- Engage in any activities that disturb the peace and harmony of the day, such as smoking, drinking, or partying
- Ignore the customs and traditions of Nyepi, or treat it as just another holiday or vacation day
- Forget that
Nyepi in Nusa Penida
Because the silence day of Nyepi took its origins in Nusa Penida, the inhabitants follow strictly the tradition and the electricity will be switch off from 6 am on March 22nd 2023 till 6 am on March 23rd 2023. To know more, you can read about the history of Nyepi.
For the tourists it means, everywhere in Nusa Penida islands : everything will be closed (shops, transport, restaurants, etc.). There will be no electricity and no internet. No fires are allowed. You are not allowed to go out on the streets. So the best is to take some time to enjoy the stars during night (no light pollution) and the serenity, and to meditate. But also to be prepared by stocking up on water and food the day before Nyepi. Or to choose the proper hotel and resort, preferably with a pool, that will provide you with food and drinks.
Upcoming Nyepi dates in Bali are :
- 22nd March 2023
- 11th March 2024
Nyepi Laut in Nusa Penida
Nyepi Laut is the maritime version of the Nyepi silence day, practiced mainly on the 3 islands of Nusa Penida. That day there is no maritime activity on Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembogan and Nusa Ceningan. It means no boat to join or leave the islands, no boat between the islands, no scuba diving, no snorkeling. And no activity involving the sea like swimming or walking on the beach.
The goal of this day is to honor and appease Dewa Baruna, the ruler of the seas and oceans. This ritual practice started in the 17th century, under the reign of Dalem Waturenggong in the Klungkung regency of Klunkung. The ritual practice of this day includes meditation and silent contemplation on the importance of the aquatic environment. That is why it is better that day to wear a sarong to cover one’s legs and a modest shirt or blouse to cover one’s shoulders.
Last Nyepi Laut in Nusa Penida was :
- October 11th, 2022
Independence day of Indonesia
On August 17, Indonesians celebrate independence by holding flag ceremonies at school and at the office. Try to attend to some of the afternoon games organized in many villages and cities ! But wherever you are in Bali, you will see the Indonesian flag everywhere!
Independence day :
- August 17th