Galungan And Kuningan In Bali: The Ultimate Guide To These Balinese Holidays

The festival of Galungan which culminates in Kuningan 10 days later occurs twice a year as the Balinese calendar does not perfectly align with the Gregorian Calendar.

Our guide explains this festival and why it’s the second most important holiday of the Balinese year after Nyepi, the “festival of silence”.

It’s worth noting that Balinese people consider this to be more of a “ceremony” than a “festival” as it’s not really something that an outsider can take part in, unlike say the Ogoh-Ogoh festival prior to Nyepi. 

About Galungan And Kuningan

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Legend has it that Galungan celebrates a famous Balinese victory when Indra, (the Hindu God of thunder and storms) and Mayadenawa (a Balinese king who prevented his subjects from carrying out their Hindu duties) pitted their will against each other.

The king was reputedly so powerful that nobody dared gainsay him and nobody could defeat him in battle.

After he vanquished an army sent from Java, Indra decided to take a personal role in the proceedings.

He came down from heaven and led an army to Tampaksiring in Gianyar Province and the king was beaten.

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However, Mayadenawa was a cunning foe and tried to disguise himself to flee the field and return another day.

He fooled Indra’s troops, but not the God himself and Indra finally put an end to the king with an arrow of magic!

The king bled to death at the site of Tirta Empul Temple and his body gave rise to a freshwater spring.

The first Galungan Day was a celebration of the victory of Dharma over Adhrama (good vs evil).

So what is Kuningan for? Well, the locals were so intimidated by the evil king that many did not believe he was dead.

Thus, a public announcement was made 10 days later to reassure them.

Galungan Day

People walking on street during festival

Galungan Day is very important to Balinese people and it serves a similar function to New Year and most people will go home to their family and village community.

The day before Galungan is spent in preparation, pigs will be slaughtered for a fest, fried rice cakes will be made and the temples and villages will be filled with the “penjor”. 

This is a great chance for visitors to the island to see a different side of Bali as all the Balinese folks are tied up in preparing for this sacred ceremony.

“Penjor” are specially decorated poles, with a natural curvature at the summit, that are festooned with rice, fruit, coconut leaves and coconuts.

The men of the community go out to erect these poles by the household gates at each home and

During the day, everyone will put on their finest clothes and then visit their family temple to pray and make ceremonial offerings.

It is believed that the deceased relatives return to Earth as spirits on this day and prayers are very important to ensure that the ancestral spirits visit is a fruitful one.

If the spirits of deceased relatives are happy, then the following period will be a prosperous one.

These prayers are also for the Supreme God or God Almighty of the Hindu faith.

Kuningan Day

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Kuningan means “yellow” in Balinese and thus Kuningan Day is a day spent making offerings of yellow rice (turmeric makes the rice appear yellow) to Wisnu, of the Hindu Trinity.

If you want to see this festival, one of the best places to visit is the Sakenan Temple on Serangan Island near Denpasar.

Kuningan coincides with their “piodalan” anniversary and thus, they love to double the celebratory efforts here.

There are dances, rituals and pilgrims from all over Bali and the occasion is very moving and interesting.


What Do You Do In Galungan? What Do People Do During Galungan?

As with most holidays in the Balinese calendar, visitors are not expected to join the Balinese Hindus in their celebration, though they are welcome to bear witness to the honouring of God Almighty and enjoy some Balinese cake.

How Long Does Galungan Go On For?

Galungan is a single day, however, the period between Galungan and Kuningan Day is always a fixed period of 10 days with the Galungan ceremony taking place on a Wednesday, twice a year, and then the Kuningan Ceremonies taking place on the second Saturday following.

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Is Galungan A Public Holiday?

Yes, this day is a public holiday and many Balinese locals will take this Balinese holiday and then book additional days off to ensure that they can meet their obligations for the Galungan ceremonies and the ancestral spirits.

Who Is Kuningan?

Kuningan is not a person, it’s the day that Balinese Hindus end the festival that began on Galungan Day.

What Is Galungan And Kuningan?

Galungan and Kuningan Day celebrations are all about celebrating the victory of good over evil in the Hindu faith.

How To Book A Holiday In Bali During Galungan And Kuningan?

We always recommend that you book a holiday in Bali through the Bali Res Centre and that’s because they’re a local travel specialist based right here in Bali.

They can ensure you get to enjoy Galungan Day and the Kuningan Celebration by finding you the perfect deal on hotels, flights and more.

Final Thoughts On Galungan And Kuningan Day In Bali

Galungan and Kuningan represent the triumph of good over evil. This holiday period is second, only to Nyepi, in importance in the Balinese Hindu life.

It takes place twice a year, in the Gregorian Calendar, and is one of the best times to visit the local temples which are decorated to celebrate the occasion.

If you’re wondering when to visit Bali to get an intimate glimpse of the local culture, it’s a great idea to aim for the period of Galungan and Kuningan.

Also, unlike during Nyepi, FINNS Beach Club, the world’s best beach club, remains open at this time and you can come and enjoy a drink or two while watching the sunset after enjoying these celebrations.

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