Many visitors to Bali soon realize the important part that festivals play in the lives of the local people. The events, which occur throughout the year, are significant for all the special occasions in Balinese life. In fact, festivals in Bali are part of the cycle of life, and there is usually some form of preparation or celebration going on somewhere on the island. This tradition makes a visit to Bali more colorful for travelers, and holidaymakers staying at Seminyak Bali Villas, for example, can find themselves close to the action and can get more intimately acquainted with some of the Balinese ceremonial traditions.
Festivals come in different forms, and the annual festival of Nyepi, for example, involves a day of silence to mark the lunar New Year, often during the spring equinox. Visitors need to be aware of the nature of this event, as shops and restaurants are closed and it is considered polite to stay indoors for the day. This is made easier because many people are recovering from the festival of Melasti, the previous day.
Melasti involves a ritual of purification, and so the main events of the festival take place either processing to or next to water, such as beside the sea or at one of the holy springs. The background to the ritual, which involves the washing of statues, is the sound of drumming, shouting, and firecrackers. Visitors to Bali should make sure that they arrive on the island before Melasti, and that they do not make plans for excursions or trips during Nyepi.
The festival of Galungan, on the other hand, is a 10-day affair that occurs every 210 days, according to the island’s rather complex Wuku calendar. The festival marks a celebration of the victory of good over evil, and private Balinese homes are cleaned and adorned with special offerings in honor of the occasion. In addition, the streets are decorated, and the day of Galungan itself is marked by praying and feasting. Visitors may be able to enjoy special local food on this occasion, and can certainly find plenty of picturesque sights to photograph.
Another active festival is Negara, which takes place in the early autumn and is marked by bull races. Pairs of bulls are specially decorated and are guided by jockeys that ride in chariots. This is another of the festivals for which a visitor will find that a camera is almost obligatory.
Meanwhile, each temple has a ‘birthday’ festival, known as Odalan, every 210 days. Each temple celebrates this ‘birthday’ on a different day, which means that a village can have several Odalan festivals each year. The colorful clothing and purification rituals mark the festival days distinctively. In addition, family festivals celebrating life events, such as birth, marriage, and cremation, may happen at any time. Visitors may be surprised at the processions and celebrations that take place at these times, so it is always worth stepping out onto the streets of Bali with an open mind and a camera at the ready.
About our guest blogger: Ben Jenkins is a part-time blogger who enjoys supporting Manchester United, making music, and is a self confessed ‘travel junkie’
Photo Credit: Riza Nugraha