Balinese Public Ceremonies

Balinese Public Ceremonies you should know

The island of Bali is all about finding balance, harmony, peace and Balinese is a great reflection of that. The Balinese tend to pray to the Gods alike in their Hindu Dharma religion, which includes honouring the shadow and light to find balance in life which you can see on Balinese public ceremonies. This is also an answer to why Balinese spend so much time on rituals. It is simply their way of showing appreciation to their gods and the surrounding spirits. Here are Balinese public ceremonies that has been practiced over the years. All of the sacred ceremonies are based on Balinese Calendar, which consists of 210 day and can be held more than once in a year. Some local-owned shops or businesses may not even be open during the ceremony. 

Galungan and Kuningan

Galungan and Kuningan are Balinese sacred days that mark the victory of virtue or Dharma over evil or Adharma. During this time, the Balinese gods and ancestral spirits descend to earth to be honoured and come to the early home. Along with the pray Balinese make a Penjor, a more than eight metre high bamboo pole, festooned with colourful flowers, fruit, unhusked rice and palm frond ornamentation, with an offering at the base to the returning ancestors and deities. In fact, Penjor is used by Balinese as part of almost every important ceremony, especially for the anniversary temple celebrations as well where we can see it in almost every corner of the street.

While Kuningan is the day to marks the end of the sequence of Galungan, it is another series  that comes 10 days after. As the day that marks the end of Galungan, Kuningan is believed to be the departure time of the ancestors to their own. Thus, Balinese would make special offerings and one of the most common is made of yellow turmeric rice which is also the colour of the god Wisnu, the protector of the Hindu trinity. Kuningan that derived from  the words Kauningan in old-age Balinese means spiritual increasing condition by self-awareness to avoid negative impact. 

About Nyepi 2020

Nyepi or silent day is a part of important Balinese ceremonies that marks a new year based on Balinese Hindu calendar. Nyepi will fall on 25-26 March in 2020. While the Balinese follow the Gregorian calendar for business and government purposes, holy days are calculated on the traditional lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. Moreover, Nyepi has sequence that starts three days beforehand. Here are things to know about Nyepi 1942 Saka.

The sequence begins with Melasti, a purification ceremony. The Melasti Ritual is performed 3–4 days beforehand and dedicated to the god. The Hindus escorted sacred effigies of gods and goddesses and ritual paraphernalia from their village temples to all of the source of water such as waterfalls, lakes and sea that are considered as the source of life by Hindus. They clean the effigies and themselves as a represents of purification ceremony before eventually bringing the sacred effigies of gods back to their village. Gamelan instruments accompanying processions of walking from the village to the water source. 

In a particular town, there are also ceremonies like no other. In Denpasar, some of Banjar or the smallest part of the community run Omed-Omedan, locally known as ‘The Kissing Ritual’. The name is derived from the Balinese language and means “pull”. It is a ceremony held by the young people as a reflection of a fight between a male and female pig and represents the push and pull of positive and negative elements. It is believed that the ritual has been around for at least more than a hundred years and has become a ceremony for the youth of village to express their joy. In common, the ceremony involves unmarried youths with ages ranging from 17-30 years old. The procession begins with praying to invoke safety among the youths who get involved and separated the man and women. After receiving the signal from the leader, both sides of man and women approach the center and start to pull and kiss the female participants while the adults or villages surrounded the stage and throw loads of water to the center. 

Next sequence, a day before the celebration of Nyepi, Balinese Hindus run a spiritual ceremony so-called Pengrupukan, a purification process followed by Ogoh-Ogoh Parade which takes place on the eve of Nyepi. An Ogoh-ogoh is normally standing on a pad built of timber planks, bamboos and iron. It has more than two meters tall and each of them weighing more than 100 kilograms with varied forms represent the evil spirits. It is usually carried by more than eight male on their shoulders. During this process, traditional gamelan music was performed by the youth.

Secondly, The Bhuta Yajna Ritual that performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual is also meant to appease Batara Kala by Pecaruan offering of live animal sacrifice. Around sunset the “Pengrupukan” ceremony begins in the house compounds with the noisy banging of pots and pans and bamboo tubes along with burning of dried coconut leaf torches to drive out the demons. Most villages or banjar also make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of richly painted bamboo, cloth, tinsel, and styrofoam symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits or even characters from Hindu mythology. Some of them are being made 2-3 months beforehand. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, they are burned in the cemeteries although many are displayed in front of community halls for another month or more and sometimes even purchased by museums and collectors. In Denpasar and Badung regency, Ogoh-Ogoh being an annual festival that attracts many tourists around the world. These regions are also known as the center of the biggest Ogoh-Ogoh all over the island and the most unique one. 


The Siwaratri is a night of meditation aimed at cleansing the impurities accumulated during the year. Siwaratri highlights a night when God of Siwa comes to the earth. The sacred day was held annually in the 13th day of Magha based on Hindus Calendar. During Siwaratri, Balinese conducting Monabrata which means silent and don’t make loud, Upawasa which means fasting or prohibited to eat and drink during the day, and Jagra, an obligatory by which Balinese keep awake all night long for one night. All of this siwaratri process will lasting one day only. 

This year, Siwaratri fall on the 1st of May. Along with Jagra process, one who participate would  pray, meditate and discuss holy texts in the temple of the dead or Pura Dalem and the temple of origin or Pura Puseh also. In fact, the Siwaratri is aimed to commemorate Lubdaka, a father in an ancient Balinese story who had received the God Siwa grants for ultimate enlightenment. On that time, Lubdaka had been cleansed by his involuntary meditation on the shore of the lake. Thus, by conducting identical series of pray and manner Balinese believe that they will also get the positive impact or same results. 

Saraswati Day

Saraswati, the goddess of learning, is a symbol of knowledge where it can flow like a river and beneficial for humans. Saraswati Day is a celebration dedicated to Saraswati and this year it held on 10th February. The students celebrate will pray and bring offerings to the temple of their school. An adult Balinese also pay homage to the goddess and books by sprinkling holy water as knowledge is very important for Balinese.

As the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati symbolized by a beautiful woman with four hands, riding on a white swan among water lilies to tell humanity that science is like a beautiful woman. Her hands hold a lontar, a Balinese traditional book which is the source of science, a chain which is symbolising that knowledge is never ending and a musical instrument that symbolising by which science develops through the growth of culture. In the afternoon of Saraswati day Balinese are not permitted to read or write the book as the books are offered to god. However, in the evening people read religious books in their houses or in the temple. In several villages, people make offerings in the form of flowers in temples and sacred texts. Commonly people do this one day after, known as Banyu Pinaruh or a day of cleansing. On this moment, Hindus of Bali go to the sea, sacred waterfalls or river spots, offer prayers to Saraswati, and then rinse themselves in that water in the morning. 


Pagerwesi is a sacred day dedicated to the spiritual strengthening. On this occasion, Balinese would bring an offerings and pray for safety, keeping negative spirit away from people and ancestors. Commonly held four days after Saraswati Day, Pagerwesi originally comes from pager and wesi words. Pager which means fence and Wesi meaning iron. The story behind this sacred day is that Balinese must keep knowledge, health, food, cloth and gold high in their lives to keep the universe in balance. On this day, Balinese pray to Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru that is manifestation of God and All Balinese have offerings to their own temple in home and several temples nearby. In fact, it is a symbol of self-protection against the evil spirit that the Balinese celebrate on this day. They strengthen their mind and they pray to God so that the evil spirit won’t enter their soul and reside within them. It is believed when people are clear from the evil spirit, they won’t harm surroundings through speech and deeds.

Tumpek Kandang

Tumpek Kandang is one of the most popular sacred days where Balinese pray to god for healthy and blessed cattle as well as their gratitude for domestic animals. This is one of the best ways how Balinese show their appreciation for animals. During the event, Balinese will bring an offering in front of the shed, cage or the body of the animal. The owner would pray in front of them and  sprinkling holy water to the animal face. In several conditions, the animal often used to wearing a cloth as an honored treatment. Soon after the pray and offering, the owner would give the animals their best food. 

Tumpek Landep Day

Tumpek Landep is a sacred day to greeting all the object metals surrounding. Consist of every single thing that made of metal like motorcycles, cars and computers. The ceremonies will start in the morning and by blessing the metal stuff, Balinese believe that  it brings the best of luck and safe in traffic. For several people who collect a dagger or kris, Tumpek Landep is the ceremony to clean up those items, followed by bring an offering to the gods. An arsenal in police station also blessed with this ceremony, represented of war in combat zone between good and bad that eventually bring the glory. However, unlike many ceremonies, Tumpek Landep and the offerings are able to conduct at home. As part of this, we might have already seen that there are dangle ornament near the mirror of the motorbike or on the dashboard of the car and this is a sign that those transportation already blessed. 


Odalan is a sacred day to celebrate the village temple where Balinese come together, perform religious works and at the same time gathered to mark the founding of specific Hindu temple. It is a ceremony to celebrate the temple’s anniversary and as using Balinese calendar, which consists of 210 day, it means that the ceremony would happen twice in a year.  During the ceremony, they bring an offerings, play Balinese gamelan so that they can catch up with friends and relatives. Offerings in Odalan contain varied of food, from suckling pig to fruits.  Balinese would come to the temple nearby and the ceremony could lasting for three days and even more than week depends on the community. People will come with all the family members. It is important for all the members who are healthy and not in periods to attend the ceremony. 

Tumpek Uduh

Tumpek Uduh is typically a blessing ceremony for all food products for good crops that held at every plantation and farm throughout the island. Some people called this ceremony as Tumpek Wariga, Pengatag, Tumpek Bubuh or tree’s birthday since they believed that the ceremony of  how the local are blessing the environment. During the ceremony, the Balinese would bring an offering and worship to the god of Sangkara as a keeper of the tree’s life on their own land. From rice fields, jungle to the garden for mother earth prosperity where the ceremony would held every Saniscara Kliwon on Balinese Calendar or 25 day after Galungan.

Full Moon Ceremonies 

The last Balinese public ceremonies on this article is Full moon ceremonies or locally called as Purnama Kedasa. It is a ritual that attended by thousands of devotees. On this ceremonies, Balinese inviting the gods and deified ancestors for the blessings. On the preceding Sunday, Balinese also do a purification ceremony and bring the temple objects for clean up to water sources like waterfall and sea. This ceremony is essential as Balinese calendar is based on the moon phases. Each full moon the Balinese offerings some fruit, food and flowers, dressing accordingly before visiting the local temple. During in temple they reciting mantras and holy scriptures, as well as meeting in prayer, ritual and meditation. The full moon rituals also include bathing in holy water fragranced with frangipani flowers, such as at the popular Pura Tirta Empul Temple as they believed to cleanse the aura, wash away all sins and allow the person to remain youthful and attractive. Here are another articles you should know about Balinese public ceremonies or things to do in Bali.

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