Given the Balinese are very spiritual people, it should come as no surprise that Bali is a country abundant in religious and village festivals. While temple festivals are fairly common, village festivals, like the Usaba Sambah Festival in Tenganan, are a special treat. If you decide to attend a temple festival, be sure to wear a sarong and sash and follow temple rules, especially the one about not standing higher than the priest during a ceremony, lest you appear to be disrespectful. In addition to traditional Balinese festivals, there’s an annual health and wellness event that’s worth noting:
Devoted to unifying the global community through healing, yoga, dance and the beat of world music, is in its eighth year. The festival is held in Ubud in the spring and is one of the world’s leading lifestyle festivals with an emphasis on health and wellness. Full festival passes cost $475-$675.
Telephone: 628113922293 or BBM 2204F030
Website: Bali Spirit Festival
Galungan, an important festival that’s similar to Christmas, is held every 210 days and it’s 10 days long. Galungan celebrates the occasion when the gods and ancestral spirits come to earth to temporarily live among their descendants. On the 10th day, there’s Kuningan, when families say goodbye to the gods and spirits. Throughout the festival, villagers place a penjor (made from a tall bamboo pole, corn, coconuts, rice stems and palm leaves) outside their houses.
Nyepi is Bali’s New Year’s Eve and it’s held in March the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox. This is the first day of the new year in the Saka calendar. Unlike Western New Year’s Eve celebrations, Nyepi is a day filled with silence, meditation and fasting. It begins at 6 a.m. and lasts for 24 hours. No one leaves their houses and the airports are closed.
Tawur Kesanga (Ogoh-Ogoh) day is held the day before Nyepi, and this religious celebration is based on a large exorcism. Villages compete to make large, scary ogoh-ogoh papier-mÃ¢chÃ© effigies, (pictured) which they carry on bamboo platforms to a crossroads at night. At the crossroads, the villagers drive evil away with their loud voices and by playing drums, gongs and cymbals. The villagers then take their ogoh-ogohs to the beach and burn them (but if you’re interested in collecting one, you can often negotiate a good price).
At the month-long , which is also known as the “fighting festival,” men fight (makara kare) with sticks wrapped in thorny pandanus leaves and girls are ceremonially twirled around in small, hand-powered Ferris wheels in a ritual called “maayunan.” The festival is located in the walled Bali Aga village of Tenganan and is usually held in May. There’s no charge to attend but be forewarned: Tenganan has no accommodations for tourists and the village is closed to tourists at night.