What time of year is best to visit Bali if I want to see a major festival?
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Big religious holidays in Bali are Nyepi (Day of Silence or widely considered as the Balinese New Year), Galungan and Kuningan.Nyepi is celebrated once a year; however Galungan and Kuningan can be celebrated twice a year, due to the Balinese Pakuwon calendar. The Pakuwon calendar is a 210 day cycle that’s completely different from the Western Gregorian calendar and is only used by the Balinese Hindu.Hence,the exact date of each festival varies every year, so remember to check before booking your trip, if you do want it to coincide with one of the festivals.

Nyepi is the day of silence which inspired the global Earth Hour. The silent day is also meant to purify the soul of Balinese Hindus, so no electricity is used and there are no activities at night -- extreme silence guaranteed. Before celebrating Nyepi, the Balinese celebrate Melasti (the day to receive purification from the sea god) and the BhutaYajna ritual. BhutaYajna is particularly impressive. Each Banjar (community) crafts Ogoh-Ogoh (giant demon figures made out of papers which symbolizes evil nature of living beings), weeks and sometimes months ahead of the event. On the D day, the Ogoh-Ogoh are paraded around the village or town and then at the end of the evening, burned, to symbolically get rid of the evil spirits.

A day after Nyepi, there's a local tradition, called Omed-Omedan, the annual kissing festival which is highly anticipated by singles, especially in Denpasar.

Galungan (the victory day of Dharma, God of good deeds, also considered as the time when gods and ancestral spirits ascend to earth to dwell among the living) and Kuningan (the day when the gods return to the nirvana) are 10 days apart from each other. The two holidays are more family celebrations,  similar to Thanks Giving and Christmas minus the turkey and mistletoe. Still, visitors can feel the festive atmosphere: men will clean and decorate the house, family shrines and temple, while women cook and make intricate decorations and Penjor (tapered bamboo poles which symbolize the holy Mount Agung). During Galungan, Kuningan holidays, Balinese will return to their native villages to celebrate with family and their Banjar (community). Visitors are also allowed to witness the prayers at the temple, as long as they dress and act appropriately—so go ahead and purchase traditional dress and attend!

 

Apr 9, 2011 12-05-05