Bali Ceremonies Calendar 2017
Çaka 1938 – 1939

Bali local citizens are mostly Hindu followers and have their own Lunar-based calendar system called the Çaka calendar. The print version of this calendar is available to buy at local supermarkets and bookstores. The calendar provides general information about Indonesia public holidays, also various information such as the Moon cycle, Hindu holidays & events, recommended period for planting & harvesting crops, and many more. Among the holidays, there are some very important holidays like Galungan which requires a lot of details that the Balinese would take leave from their daily work for one full week.

If you come to Bali at the “right” time, you might be frustrated with lots of worker holidays and roadblocks since Balinese often use the road to hold a ceremony. To have a full experience of your holiday in Bali, below you can find important days taken from the Balinese calendar so that you can plan you holiday with ease.

Notes:
– Bold text denotes national holidays
– Pink text denotes Balinese holiday. Click on the text to view its description

JANUARY

01 New Year 2017
21 Saraswati
25 Pagerwesi
28 Chinese New Year 2568 (2017 the Red Fire Rooster)


MARCH

28 Nyepi & Çaka New Year 1939


APRIL

05 Galungan
14 Good Friday
15 Kuningan
16 Easter
24 Isra Miraj


MAY

01 International Labour Day
11 Vesak 2561
25 Ascension Day


JUNE

01 Pancasila Day
04 Pantecost Day
2526 Idul Fitri


AUGUST

17 National Day
19 Saraswati
23 Pagerwesi


SEPTEMBER

01 Idul Adha
21 Islamic New Year 1439


NOVEMBER

01 Galungan
11 Kuningan


DECEMBER

01 Birth of the Prophet
25 Christmas


Aside from those holidays, Balinese people also celebrate the full moon & new moon, anniversary of their temples, and the days called “Tumpek”. Tumpek are auspicious days on the Balinese calendar. There are six Tumpek which are spread over a 210 day cycle called Pawukon. Tumpek days signify the meeting of a Saniscara weekday (Saturday) and Keliwon day. The six Tumpek and the dates are listed below, and you can click on the text to view its description.

  • 04 Feb 02 Sep Tumpek Landep
  • 11 Mar 07 Oct Tumpek Uduh
  • 15 Apr 11 Nov Tumpek Kuningan
  • 20 May 16 Dec Tumpek Krulut
  • 24 Jun Tumpek Kandang
  • 29 Jul Tumpek Wayang

Saraswati day is devoted to Dewi Saraswati, the Goddess of Science & Knowledge. Books of knowledge, manuscripts and the Wedas are blessed and special offerings are made for them. On Saraswati Day, the Balinese make offerings to their books. Students celebrate at school, usually in the morning. The Saraswati Day is not a day off work, so all offices are open. The day after Saraswati is called Banyu Pinaruh. “Banyu” means water and “Pinaruh” means wisdom. Taken together, the words mean that man must have wisdom which always flows like water, and is useful for mankind. Early in the morning of Banyu Pinaruh Day, people will go the beaches, rivers and springs to purify themselves and pray for wisdom.

Pagerwesi commemorates the day upon which an ancient battle between good and evil was fought. The word “Pagerwesi” means “iron fence”, and reflects the purpose of this important event: it is the day to strengthen one’s fortifications against evil. The correlation between Pagerwesi and the Saraswati is that knowledge is so powerful that it must be protected from bad influences. Pagerwesi Day reminds people to be wise and more aware of the function and power of knowledge. The Balinese celebrate the Pagerwesi ceremony every six months according to the Balinese calendar. The celebration is usually three days after the Saraswati day.

Read also: A guide to spend Nyepi in Bali

This holiday is the Balinese New Year called Çaka New Year, the day of total silence throughout the island. No activity, no traffic at all on the roads, no fire may be lit for 24 hours.
Great purification and sacrificial rites are held the day before to exorcise evil spirits from every corner of the island.

It is also the time for the fearsome Ogoh-Ogoh – huge papier-mache effigies of evil monsters. Ogoh Ogoh are carried through towns and villages in a traditional procession to the cacophony of deafening claxons, gamelan music, drummers music. The basic idea is to make as much noise as is humanly possible for scaring off all evil spirits. In the evening (dark) these effigies are ceremoniously burnt, followed by much communal debauchery into the night. Dancing, drinking and feasting takes place in a rather chaotic fashion, all with the aim of driving these evil spirits far, far away.

Read also: A guide to spend Nyepi in Bali

One of Bali’s major festivals celebrates the return of Balinese gods and ancestors to Bali. For ten days, Balinese families will entertain and welcome with prayers and offerings, along with ceremonies to cleanse and balance the inner and outer energy of the island. Galungan features, among other things, barong dancing from temple to temple in the village. The festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The origin of Galungan is a mystery, but essentially it is believed to be the beginning of the week in which the gods and ancestors descend to earth, and good triumphs over evil. The holiday is celebrated by the fitting of ‘penjor’, tall bamboo poles beautifully decorated with woven coconut palm leaves, fruit, cakes and flowers, on the right side of every house entrance. People are attired in their finest clothes and jewels on this day.

Kuningan day, that marks the end of the Galungan holiday, is celebrated every 210 days, ten days after Galungan.

The Balinese believe that Kuningan day is the day when their ancestors return to heaven after visiting the earth during Galungan celebration. They make offerings to be given to the ancestors on their farewell day. The offerings include yellowed rice (Kuningan is derived from the word kuning which means yellow) which is placed in a small “bowl” made of coconut leaves. Other common offerings a seeds, fish and fruit like papaya and cucumber. The yellow rice is the symbol of human’s gratitude towards God for all the life, joy, wealth, health and prosperity given. The bowls are decorated with a small figures of shadow puppets which represents angels that bring joy and wealth to earth.

It is also said that on Kuningan day Ida Sang Hyang Widhi (God) is blessing and giving prosperity to the whole world. Many people believe that the celebration should be done before noon, before gods and goddess’ return to the heavens to continue their asceticism.

The first in the Pawukon cycle is called Tumpek Landep and is the day Balinese make offerings to objects made from iron, in particular daggers called Kris and iron Gamelan. These days even vehicles and computers are adorned with the elaborate offerings in the form of ornaments woven from coconut leaves.

Tumpek Uduh is in reverence of plants, in particular large trees, fruit-bearers, or those considered useful to humans. The trees are dressed up and sometimes struck during the ceremony in the hope that it will continue to bear fruit for our consumption.

Tumpek Kuningan is commonly known simply as “Kuningan” and occurs on the Saturday after Galungan. It represents the end of the Galungan holiday where ancestors are worshipped. Balinese make offerings of yellow rice on this day.

The day respect is made to bronze gamelan, masks and dance costumes is called Tumpek Krulut. Offerings are laid out in front of the largest gong, prayers are recited, and holy water is sprinkled on the instruments. Sometimes smaller offerings are tied to each individual instrument.

Tumpek Kandang is the day Balinese make offerings to animals, in particular farm stock such as cows, pigs and buffalo. The animals are washed, given special fodder and dressed in ceremonial cloth.

The day reserved for ceremonial puppets is called Tumpek Wayang. A puppeteer will take all the puppets, perhaps more than 100, out of their wooden box (keropak) and line them up on a banana tree trunk (gedebong) as if to be used for a real performance. Then special offerings are made.