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Galungan, one of the most important Balinese festivals, is the culmination of celebrations held in honour of the creator and ancestral spirits.

According to Balinese-Hinduism, the creator of the universe is Ida Sang Hyang Widi. During these celebrations, it is believed that spirits of the ancestors return to the earth, thus marking the start of a number of Balinese festivals.

Galungan 2023 Dates, Locations, Spiritual Festival Bali, Indonesia

At the core of the festival is the celebration of good and the overcoming of evil; the victory of Dharma and the defeat of Adharma. The festival usually runs for around 10 days at various locations around Bali.

With the return of these ancestral spirits to their former homes, the locals are expected to demonstrate kindness through making offerings and chanting prayers. Visitors touring Bali during Galungan will notice the tall bamboo poles that line the streets and roads. The bamboo poles locally referred to as ‘penjor’, are used to hang offerings as a kind gesture towards the spirits.

The poles have colourful decorations that will often include fruits, flowers, and leaves from the coconut tree. The offerings, on the other hand, will consist of special foods, scented flowers, and woven palm offerings. These sacrifices are offered at home as well as at the local temples (referred to as pura). Women will be seen with their offerings carried on their heads, while the men will carry with them palm leaves to the temple.

More importantly, a couple of days before and after the celebrations are accorded specific names, each dependent on the set of activities carried out in honour of the celebrations. The dates will vary from year to year simply because Balinese traditional ceremonies are observed in line with the Balinese calendar.

At the end of the celebrations, the ancestral spirits go back to their home, and this is marked by offerings of yellow rice to mark the end of Galungan.

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