The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, MD & Marion Ross, PhD) had the great privilege of attending the Galungan festival and participating in services at three temples, representing Brahma (the Creator), Wisnu/Visnu (the Protector) and Siwa/Shiva (the Destroyer). The Galungan Festival in Indonesia is the most important festival for the Balinese. The Galungan Festival symbolizes the victory of Dharma (Virtue) upon Adharma (Evil), filled with cultural rites and ceremonies.
The Galungan Festival represents “Pawedalan Jagat” or the earth’s festival ceremony. On the eve of Galungan Festival the Hindus thank God for all his creations on earth. This is the time when Hindus express their gratitude to God and invite him to come down to earth to join in their celebrations. The Galungan Festival continues for ten days. At some Balinese festivals the images of the Gods as well as the thrones they sit on are carried down to the sea where they are given a ceremonial bath.
Spirituality in Bali brings in a great deal of esoteric and mythological concepts into everyday life. It is said that there are more temples than homes in Bali and you can feel the connection to Spirit everywhere on the island. This connection is renewed every day with daily offerings that are left for the Gods. Every home has its own family temple. The mythological significance of the Galungan Festival revolves around the story of the cruel king Mayadenawa whose death represents the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). This victory day is celebrated every six months (6 x 35 days=210 days), which is called Galungan Day. It is called Galungan, probably because it is celebrated on wuku Galungan (based on the Balinese calendar), and so does Kuningan Day that falls on wuku Kuningan. Galungan Day is celebrated every Budha Kliwon Dungulan.
One of the essential social and community commodities for the offering during Galungan Festival is the Penjor. Every family and temple community create their own Penjor to place in front of the entrance to their home or temple. There are even big competitions in different communities to see who can make the most beautiful and pleasing Penjors. A Penjor is made of a long bamboo pole with a curved end that is decorated with rice plants, corn on the cob, coconut, cakes, pieces of white or yellow cloth, among other items. Penjor is usually built on Penampahan Galungan (a day before the Galungan Day). It is symbolizes the sacred Mount Agung (the highest mountain and volcano in Bali) and gratitude for the blessings of the gods in the form of agricultural abundance. Mount Agung is the symbol of holiness as a connection to Mount Semeru, Mount Himalaya, or Mahameru, which is believed as the place where Bhatara Putra Jaya resides. There are different stages in Galungan Festival and each element has its own symbolism.
Below you can check out a short video of one of the temple experiences- the others can be found on our YouTube Channel: