Galungan and Kuningan: Celebrating Good Over Evil in Bali

Galungan Kuningan Ceremony with Penjor

Galungan and Kuningan are two of the most significant ceremonies in the Balinese Hindu calendar,celebrated with great fervor across the island…

These festivals mark the triumph of dharma (good) over adharma (evil) and are rich in cultural and spiritual meaning


Galungan, which occurs every 210 days in the Balinese pawukon calendar, is a time when ancestral spirits visit the earth. The festivities last for ten days, culminating in Kuningan. The preparations begin days in advance, with families cleaning and decorating their homes and temples.


Kuningan falls ten days after Galungan and is a day of farewell for the visiting spirits. The celebrations include special prayers and offerings, with the emphasis on yellow rice, symbolic of prosperity and gratitude. Families visit temples to pray and make offerings, and homes are adorned with decorations to welcome and then bid farewell to the ancestors.

Both Galungan and Kuningan are deeply rooted in Balinese culture and spirituality, emphasizing the importance of maintaining harmony and balance in life. These festivals are not only religious events but also cultural celebrations that strengthen community bonds and preserve Balinese traditions.

A central feature of Galungan is the penjor, a tall, curved bamboo pole adorned with offerings such as rice, fruit, and flowers. These penjors line the streets, creating a festive and spiritual atmosphere. On the day of Galungan, families gather to make offerings and pray at their household shrines and local temples. It’s also a time for family reunions and feasting, with traditional dishes like lawar (spiced meat salad) and babi guling (roast pork) being prepared.

One of the unique aspects of Kuningan is the presence of small bamboo altars called tamiang, which represent protection and gratitude. The festive atmosphere of Galungan continues, but Kuningan adds a reflective element, as families honor the spirits of their ancestors before they return to the spiritual realm.

Witnessing Galungan and Kuningan provides a profound insight into the rich cultural tapestry of Bali, showcasing the island’s devotion to its spiritual heritage and the joyous celebration of life’s victories and blessings.

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