The Balinese life follows the rhythm of numerous celebrations and ceremonies of different kind. Some of them take place everywhere in Bali like Nyepi. But some are more local, like Nyepi Laut only on the Nusa Penida islands : Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
The people of Nusa Penida will be happy to invite you, if you want to join. It is indeed the perfect opportunity to better understand the balinese culture. So, if you can, choose the dates of your travel taking into account one ceremony within this list. You won’t be disappointed !
The two balinese calendars
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 :
- September 16th 2020 /September 26th 2020
- April 14th 2021 /April 24th 2021
- Nov 10th 2021 / Nov 20th 2021
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 :
- January 31st, 2021
- Aout 28th, 2021
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 :
- February 3rd, 2021
- September 1st 2021
Every 35 days, the Balinese make offerings to items or valuable property :
- Music instruments, masks and outfits used during ceremonies (Tumpek Krulut) : October 31st 2020, May 29th 2021 and December 25th 2021
- Pets and especially cattle (Tumpek Kandang) : December 5th 2020, July 3rd 2021
- Puppets (Tupek Wayang) : January 9th 2021, August 7th 2021
- Iron objects such as cars, motorbikes, televisions, knives… (Tumpek Landep) : July 18th 2020, February 13th 2021, September 11th2021
- And trees (Tumpek Uduh) : August 22nd 2020, March 20th 202, October 16th 2021
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 that day, it is strictly forbidden to anyone (Balinese and tourists) to go out on the streets, to set a fire or to turn the lights on, to work and even to entertain themselves for 24 hours starting from 6am. Even Bali airport is closed for the day (except for medical emergencies). 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 night before Nyepi, great processions march through the streets of Bali carrying ogoh ogoh (paper-mache monsters, demons’ folk statues) representing the past year’s demons. Cymbals and firecrackers accompany the procession to frighten off evil spirits. And the participants burn the statues at the end of the ceremony.
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 14th 2021 till 6 am on March 15th 2021. 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 :
- In 2021 : on March 14th, 2021
- on March 3rd, 2022
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.
Upcoming Nyepi Laut dates in Nusa Penida are :
- October 2nd 2020
- September 22nd, 2021
- 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