Bali Temple Festival

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Festivals and events are important features in the social landscape of Bali, and also permanent fixtures in the lives of the Balinese. These festivals and events are determined by the calendars of the Balinese from long ago. Every Temple and Shrine has a special date for it annual Ceremony, or " Odalan ", every 210 days according to Balinese calendar, including the smaller ancestral shrine which each family possesses. Because of this practically every few days a ceremony of festival of some kind takes place in some Village in Bali. There are also times when the entire island celebrated the same Holiday, such as at Galungan, Kuningan, Nyepi day, Saraswati day, Tumpek Landep day, Pagerwesi day, Tumpek Wayang day etc.

The dedication or inauguration day of a Temple is considered its birth day and celebration always takes place on the same day if the wuku or 210 day calendar is used. When new moon is used then the celebration always happens on new moon or full moon. The day of course can differ the religious celebration of a temple lasts at least one full day with some temple celebrating for three days while the celebration of Besakih temple, the Mother Temple, is never less than 7 days and most of the time it lasts for 11 days, depending on the importance of the occasion.

The celebration is very colorful. The shrine are dressed with pieces of cloths and sometimes with brocade, sailings, decorations of carved wood and sometimes painted with gold and Chinese coins, very beautifully arranged, are hung in the four corners of the shrine. In front of shrine are placed red, white or black umbrellas depending which Gods are worshipped in the shrines.

In front of important shrine one sees, besides these umbrellas soars, tridents and other weapons, the "umbul-umbul", long flags, all these are prerogatives or attributes of Holiness. In front of the Temple gate put up "Penjor", long bamboo poles, decorated beautifully ornaments of young coconut leaves, rice and other products of the land. Most beautiful to see are the girls in their colorful attire, carrying offerings, arrangements of all kinds fruits and colored cakes, to the Temple. Every visitor admires the grace with which the carry their load on their heads.

The Balinese use altogether three types of calendars for one year; one is the typical Western calendar, and the other two are local Balinese calendars, the saka and the wuku calendars.

The wuku calendar is used to find out dates for festivals and has 10 different weeks, each from one to 10 days and all running simultaneously. The saka calendar is a lunar calendar of Hindu origin, which closely follows the Western calendar in terms of the length of the year. With illustrations for each day indicating what activities that day is auspicious for, Balinese calendars make popular souvenirs.

Some of Bali's major temples celebrate their festivals according to the dictates of the saka calendar. Hence, the actual date of a festival is difficult to determine from the Western calendar since the lunar saka does not have a predetermined number of days.

The wuku calendar, however, does have a set number of days. According to the saka, full moons days from the end of September till the start of October, or from early to mid-April are normally important festive dates, and temples will celebrate important temple festivals then.


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