Every 210 days the whole island of Bali sprouts flimsy bamboo poles, known as “penjor,” an unmistakable sign that Galungan fever is just about to kick in. Adorned with fruit, flowers and coconut leaves, these tall poles are found on every byway and highway and outside virtually every Balinese home, fluttering aimlessly in the breeze.
Bali Galungan and kuningan day is a unique 10 day celebration commemorating good over evil in typically melodramatic style. Balinese mythology is colorful to say the least and the story behind Galungan takes it to a whole new level. Briefly, it involves a shape-shifting evil giant, rivers of blood and a year-long battle royal between the Gods. During Galungan the Godly spirits return to earth and expect to be welcomed and entertained with important Balinese rituals and extravagant feasts.
From a visitor’s point of view, Galungan is second only for sheer spectacle to the Nyepi “Day of Silence”. Kuningan is the final day of the festival which brings proceedings to a close. It is all a much regimented occasion where every member of the household has specific tasks to perform and dressed in their “Sunday best” finery. The preceding days are all full of feverish activity – cooking, cleaning and making offerings. You’ll see the roads filled with convoys of scooters ferrying neatly dressed worshippers to and from temples carrying huge baskets of fruit, flowers or even live chickens.
The house compounds that make up the nucleus of Balinese society come alive with devotions offered by the families living within. Families offer bountiful sacrifices of food and flowers to the ancestral spirits, expressing gratitude and hopes for protection. These sacrifices are also offered at local temples, which are packed with devotees bringing their offerings.