Top 10 Unique Celebrations in Bali Indonesia

Indonesia is a country of uncountable tribes spread in all corners of the country. Each of them have their own unique rituals and traditions depend on their purpose and belief.

Moreover, Balinese people or Bali tribes are one of those people that still proudly do a lot of traditional ritual throughout the year. Here are some of celebrations in Bali you would want to know about :

  1. Ngaben

Ngaben is one of the various traditions that held by Balinese people to purify the soul of the dead. All of the family wouldn’t feel sad to celebrate incident that happened to their loved one but feeling grateful to be able to fulfill their obligations for their family member for the last time.

Ngaben could be classified as traditional way of funerals because this ritual includes burning all body parts of the dead to ash before finally letting go of them. Balinese people believe that the dead would then go peacefully to the hereafter after they finish this ritual, so then their soul would be reincarnated into another body afterward. Ngaben usually lasts for 1-3 days depends on the family’s caste. The higher the caste, the bigger the celebration would be. And of course the more expensive it is.

  1. Ngurek

Ngurek, or also famous as Ngunying, often celebrated in several areas of Bali island. This ritual is quite extreme to see because it contains sharp tools and a lot of blood coming out. What happen during this celebration solely to show how grateful they are to their Almighty, Sang Hyang Widhi, for what ever happens in their life. They would hurt themselves while being purposely possessed.

  1. Melasti before Nyepi

Balinese or Hinduism people’s intention to do Melasti is purely to clarify and purify their soul welcoming “Nyepi” Day (or Day of Silence to celebrate New Year in Balinese calendar). Melasti is held near the shore to wash away all of the negativity and bad thing in one’s self down to the water.

And they would wear white clothes as symbolized of being re-chaste. But, not only people that need to be purified, also sacred objects of temples, and their residence areas, too. Offerings also provided by them to be given to Trimurti, 3 God of Hinduism religion: Wisnu, Siwa, and Brahmana.

  1. Mepandes

Mapandes is also one of those celebrations in Bali to re-chaste Balinese people’s soul and free them from Sad Ripu influence. Sad Ripu itself contains 6 negative qualities of human being including lust, greedy, cruelty, madness, arrogant, and envy. This ritual will be held after women get her first menstruation and for men have their voice changed, as a sign that they are ready to get re-purified. Those teenagers would get their teeth honed. Although they have already done their Mepandes ritual, being a better person also require good intention and effort.

  1. Saraswati

For academic staff and student, Saraswati is their most important celebration to do. Because this ritual is a sign of gratefulness that knowledge has been thrown down to earth brings up ease for human life. They are very thankful of knowledge, consciousness, and literature.

They would prepare for a praying ritual in their school first, then followed by praying in their nearest temples. Most of them like to do it in the central temple together. Books, and other educational stuffs also getting prayed for, so then it would give them smoothness in learning.

  1. Galungan

When it comes to Galungan, we would spend a lot of time to explain it in details because before the D-Day Hinduism people have already spent some time doing some other earlier rituals such as Tumpek Wariga, Sugihan Jawa, Sugihan Bali, Penyekeban Day, Penyajan Day, Penampahan Day, until finally celebrate Galungan every 210 days (according to Balinese calendar counting).

Galungan is their religious day. Start from praying inside their own house, to nearest temple, then visit their family members in grave and bring them some “banten” (a colorful traditional homemade porridge) as offerings to them. Just like ‘pulang kampung’ (back to hometown) in Ied Fitr Celebration in moslem tradition, in Galungan Day they also do it. They will come home visiting their family to celebrate galungan together.

  1. Nyepi

Nyepi is another form of New Year Celebration held by Hinduism people according to their own calendar. They celebrate year changing by doing literally nothing. They would switch off all of the electricity, no school, no work, even the airport is closed temporarily on that day, except hospital.

A day before they held Melasti ritual to purify their soul from negativity, and the day after they would do absolutely nothing. A new year started with a new white canvas of life, holy and clean, as a preparation to them for facing a new year mentally ready.

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  1. Makepung Buffalo Race

 Buffalo or Cow race is famous in Madura but evidently Bali does this ritual too. In Bali , they use buffalo instead of cow because cow is animal that has been considered as sacred for Balinese people. In earlier era, it was only a fun games to do between farmers while plowing fields on harvest time.

However, now it becomes a celebration held annually every year. They make it as a fun race and the participants should cross the finish line faster than the others. And this competition becomes somehow interesting to watch because they also make over their buffalo with colorful accessories.

  1. Perang Pandan

Perang Pandan, or Pandan Fight, is a special ritual not all of Balinese people would do but only Tanganan’s. This ritual is a tribute to the God of War, Indra. He previously won a fight against Maya Denata, someone who once self-proclaimed that he was a God and prohibited everyone to do traditional rituals.

Perang Pandan containing fighting rituals using Pandan thorny leaves and the participants are youth of Tenganan village and outside of Tenganan village. They would first dance one by one, and for once or twice whipped each other’s back with pandan leaves until bleeding. But there’s no hard feeling among them because they do it as a sign of gratefulness to the Gods. After finish pandan fighting, they would go praying to the temples and finish it with eating together as a symbol of togetherness

  1. Omed-omedan

This ritual happens after Nyepi Day. After praying together, 18 to 30 years old women and men would gather in a place to participate. They will stand face to face, get flushed by water, try to fight, and will be end by kissing each other. If you want to see and photographed this unique ritual you can come to Denpasar areas.

Here I give video about one tradition in Bali called omed-omedan. Check this out.

After knowing only several kind of celebrations in Bali, what do think? Don’t you think that Indonesia, especially Bali, has much to explore and learn about? Bali’s beauty not only seen by its natural beauty but also in their culture and people. They have a lot of exciting activities to do in Bali Indonesia. Come visit Bali to prove it yourself!