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Saraswati Day

imagesKnowledge is very important for Balinese. Every Saniscara, Umanis, Wuku Watugunung, they celebrate Saraswati Day, the knowledge day. It is based on the Pawukon (Balinese calendar) system and the Saniscara (seven day cycle).

The name Saraswati came from “Saras” meaning flow and “wati” meaning a women. So, Saraswati is symbol of knowledge, its flow (or growth) is like a river and knowledge is very interesting, like a beautiful women.

Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge, symbolized by a beautiful woman with four hands, riding on a white swan among water lilies to tell humanity that science is like a beautiful woman. Her hands hold a palm leaf; a lontar, (a Balinese traditional book which is the source of science or knowledge); a chain (genitri with 108 pieces) symbolising that knowledge is never ending and has an everlasting life cycle; and a musical instrument (guitar or wina) symbolising that science develops through the growth of culture. The swans symbolise prudence, so that one’s knowledge may distinguish between good and evil and the water lilies (Lotus) are symbols of holiness. The Lotus flower is the holiest for Balinese.

In the afternoon of Saraswati day we are not permitted to read or write the book because all the books are offered. In the evening, called Malam Sastra, people read books (especially religious books) in their houses or in the temple.

  • Pangredanan (the day before Saraswati)
    This is the day of preparation. All the books and lontar are collected together, cleaned and dusted.
  • Saraswati Day
    Saraswati day itself is celebrated by the Balinese people bringing offerings to their holy books and scrolls in their houses, while students celebrate it at school, usually in the morning, and the office-workers in their office. The philosophy of Saraswati day is that the most important thing for human life is knowledge.
  • Banyu Pinaruh
    The day after Saraswati Day is Banyu Pinaruh day. “Banyu” means water and “Pinaruh” mean wisdom. In other words, we must have wisdom which always flows like water and which is useful for human kind. We pray for Dewi Saraswati (manifestation of God) to give us cleverness and wisdom. The people usually take a bath in the sea or a lake or river and drink traditional medicine which is made from many various leaves which is very good for our health. The philosophy of Banyu Pinaruh day is the second most important thing for human life is good health.
  • Soma Ribek
    Two days after Saraswati Day, on Soma (or Monday), Pon, Wuku Sinta, is Soma Ribek day. “Soma” meaning Monday, and “Ribek” meaning full. On this day, Balinese bring offerings to the rice box. They thank God for food and beverage in their lives and pray to Dewi Sri (Goddess of prosperity, manifestation of God) to give prosperity. This celebration remind them to be selective when choosing food and not to over eat to improve their health. The philosophy of Soma Ribek day is the third most important thing for human life is food and drink.
  • Sabuh Mas
    Three days after Saraswati Day, on Anggara (or Tuesday), Wage, Wuku Sinta, is Sabuh Mas day. “Sabuh” means belt, and “Mas” mean gold. On this day, Balinese bring offerings to the deposit box or the place where they keep their jewelry. They thank Mahadewa (manifestation of God) for cloth, money, gold, etc in our lives. This celebration remind them to be selective when spending money. The philosophy of Sabuh Mas day is the fourth most important thing for human life is cloth and gold, etc.
  • Pagerwesi
    Four days after Saraswati Day, on Buda (or Wednesday), Kliwon, Wuku Sinta, is Pagerwesi day. “Pager” meaning fence and “Wesi” meaning iron. On this day, Balinese pray to Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru (manifestation of God). All Balinese have offerings to their Sanggah (temple in their home) and at all of their temples. This is the second biggest holiday after Galungan day for the Balinese. The philosophy of this celebration is that they must keep knowledge, health, food, cloth and gold high in their lives to keep the universe in balance.

Galungan and Kuningan Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
702626_315128751963545_1143707983_nGalungan marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies. The spirits of deceased relatives who have died and been cremated return to visit their former homes, and the current inhabitants have a responsibility to be hospitable through prayers and offerings. The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the ”penjor” – bamboo poles weighed down by offerings suspended at the end. These can be seen by the side of roads. A number of days around the Kuningan day itself have special names, with particular activities being organized.

Name of day Activities
3 days before Penyekeban Cooking of bananas for offerings
2 days before Penyajaan Making of jaja (fried rice cakes)
1 day before Penampahan Slaughtering of pigs and turtles for feasts
1 day after Manis Galungan Visiting family
10 days after Kuningan Prayers, offerings – spirits return to heaven
11 days after Manis Kuningan Fun

NYEPI DAY / SILENCE DAY
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images3Every religion or culture all over the world has their own way to define and celebrate their new year. For example, the Chinese have the Imlek year and to celebrate it, have, as they called it in their own language, “Gong Xi Fat Choy”. The Moslem societies have their Muharam year, and any of the people over the world using the Gregorian calendar, celebrate the New Year on January 1st.

The same thing also occurs in Bali, however the Balinese use many different calendar systems. They have adopted the Gregorian calendar for business and government purposes. But for the endless procession of holy days, temple anniversaries, celebrations, sacred dances, building houses, wedding ceremonies, death and cremation processes and other activities that define Balinese life, they have two calendar systems. The first is the Pawukon (from the word Wuku which means week) and Sasih (which is means month). Wuku consists of 30 items starting from Sinta, the first Wuku and end up with the Watugunung the last one. The Pawukon, a 210-day ritual calendar brought over from Java in the 14th century, is a complex cycle of numerological conjunctions that provides the basic schedule for ritual activities on Bali. Sasih, a parallel system of Indian origin, is a twelve month lunar calendar that starts with the vernal equinox and is equally important in determining when to pay respect to the Gods.

Westerners open the New Year in revelry, however, in contrast, the Balinese open their New Year in silence. This is called Nyepi Day, the Balinese day of Silence, which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox, and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu era which began in 78 A.D.

Nyepi is a day to make and keep the balance of nature. It is based on the story of when King Kaniska I of India was chosen in 78 A.D. The King was famous for his wisdom and tolerance for the Hinduism and Buddhism societies. In that age, Aji Saka did Dharma Yatra (the missionary tour to promote and spread Hinduism) to Indonesia and introduce the Saka year.

The lead upto Nyepi day is as follows:

  • Melasti or Mekiyis or Melis (three days before Nyepi)
    Melasti is meant to clean the pratima or arca or pralingga (statue), with symbols that help to concentrate the mind in order to become closer to God. The ceremony is aimed to clean all nature and its content, and also to take the Amerta (the source for eternal life) from the ocean or other water resources (ie lake, river, etc). Three days before Nyepi, all the effigies of the Gods from all the village temples are taken to the river in long and colourful ceremonies. There, they have are bathed by the Neptune of the Balinese Lord, the God Baruna, before being taken back home to their shrines.
  • Tawur Kesanga (the day before Nyepi)
    Exactly one day before Nyepi, all villages in Bali hold a large exorcism ceremony at the main village cross road, the meeting place of demons. They usually make Ogoh-ogoh (the fantastic monsters or evil spirits or the Butha Kala made of bamboo) for carnival purposes. The Ogoh-ogoh monsters symbolize the evil spirits surrounding our environment which have to be got rid of from our lives . The carnivals themselves are held all over Bali following sunset. Bleganjur, a Balinese gamelan music accompanies the procession. Some are giants taken from classical Balinese lore. All have fangs, bulging eyes and scary hair and are illuminated by torches.The procession is usually organised by the Seka Teruna, the youth organisation of Banjar. When Ogoh-ogoh is being played by the Seka Teruna, everyone enjoys the carnival. In order to make a harmonic relation between human being and God, human and human, and human and their environments, Tawur Kesanga is performed in every level of society, from the people’s house. In the evening, the Hindus celebrating Ngerupuk, start making noises and light burning torches and set fire to the Ogoh-ogoh in order to get the Bhuta Kala, evil spirits, out of our lives.
  • Nyepi
    On Nyepi day itself, every street is quiet – there are nobody doing their normal daily activities. There is usually Pecalangs (traditional Balinese security man) who controls and checks for street security. Pecalang wear a black uniform and a Udeng or Destar (a Balinese traditional “hat” that is usually used in ceremony). The Pecalangs main task is not only to control the security of the street but also to stop any activities that disturb Nyepi. No traffic is allowed, not only cars but also people, who have to stay in their own houses. Light is kept to a minimum or not at all, the radio or TV is turned down and, of course, no one works. Even love making, this ultimate activity of all leisure times, is not supposed to take place, nor even attempted. The whole day is simply filled with the barking of a few dogs, the shrill of insect and is a simple long quiet day in the calendar of this otherwise hectic island. On Nyepi the world expected to be clean and everything starts anew, with Man showing his symbolic control over himself and the “force” of the World, hence the mandatory religious control.
  • Ngembak Geni (the day after Nyepi)
    Ngembak is the day when Catur Berata Penyepian is over and Hindus societies usually visit to forgive each other and doing the Dharma Canthi. Dharma Canthi are activities of reading Sloka, Kekidung, Kekawin, etc.(ancient scripts containing songs and lyrics).

From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self introspection to decide on values, eg humanity, love, patience, kindness, etc., that should kept forever. Balinese Hindus have many kind of celebrations (some sacred days) but Nyepi is, perhaps the most important of the island’s religious days and the prohibitions are taken seriously, particularly in villages outside of Bali’s southern tourist belt. Hotels are exempt from Nyepi’s rigorous practices but streets outside will be closed to both pedestrians and vehicles (except for airport shuttles or emergency vehicles) and village wardens (Pecalang) will be posted to keep people off the beach. So wherever you happen to be staying on Nyepi Day in Bali, this will be a good day to spend indoors. Indeed Nyepi day has made Bali a unique island.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Reincarnation
Everything has its beginning far above the highest mountain, where since earliest time souls have originated and where the souls of the deified ancestors dwell.if an ancestors souls is still subject to desire -it is hungry, as people say- it will come to earth as an incarnating “shadow”.Its rebirth occurs within the same lineage, and grandchildren might bear their incarnating grandfathers souls.

Infant Gods
The baby,which embodies the souls of a reincarnation ancestor, is said to be an infant god or dewa, until it is 42 days old.It is carried about on a family members ship as it id not allowed to touch the impure soil until it is 105 days old.Its first birthday is celebrated 210 days after birth,a year in the Balinese calendar and the mother makes a temple offering to announcement the childs arrival in the village.

Tooth Filing
The ceremony of tooth filing, meant to overcome to elements of man’s bestiality, occurs after a child reaches puberty. the pointed canine teeth are considered animalistic, and all six upper front teeth are filed even. Because of the expense of this ceremony, a number of families mat join in a mass tooth filing to share costs.

Marriage
Full adulthood begins after marriage. During the ceremony, offerings are addressed to the demonic forces, who have to be placated before proper sexual desire is exercised. To show knowledge of domestic duties, a bride and bridegroom may simulate activities such as wearing or washing during the ceremony.

Cremation Tower
A cremation is the most important rite of passage that a family can perform for its loved ones. The body may be buried until a cremation can be arranged, then it is hoisted up an elaborate stairway to a decorated tower supported on a bamboo substructure. The tower is a symbolic representation of the universe, with the upper tiers symbolizing the various heavens where the soul is heading.

mail6Sarcophagus
In a joyous procession, the cremation tower is transported to the grounds where the body is placed in an animal-shaped sarcophagus.
The sarcophagus is the dead’s vehicle to the mountain of the soul’s origin.
Pots of holy water are poured over the corpse, then it and the tower and other
cremation paraphernalia are consumed by fire.

mail113Returning Home
In a final ceremony that may be held years later
the soul is called back from the sea and after several cleansing rituals
taken to the mountain temple and released to return to its heavenly abode.
it has become a deified ancestor
and is worshiped at a special shrine.

imagesKwangen
The kwangen is a small, triangular offering containing flowers a small betel quid and often Chinese coins. Kwangen are used in the Balinese form of prayer called muspa ( to pray with flowers). The Chinese coins in a kwangen are said to represent human action, purified in the act of worship.

penjorPenjor
A penjor is an offering in the form of a tall, decorated bamboo pole whose gracefully curving upper end is said to resemble both the tail of the Barong, symbol of goodness, and the peak of the sacred mountain, Mount Agung. Penjor are placed in front of each Balinese household for the Galungan holiday 300 and are also used in conjunction with important temple ceremonies and life-cycle rituals. Hanging from the end of every penjor are beautifully plaited palm leaf creations called sampian.

imagesCAEOWTUVCanang Sari
Canang Sari offerings differ in form and function depending on locality but in general are said to embody the essence or sari of human prosperity, a kind of repayment to the forces of the invisible world for their gifts to human society.
Typically,
canang sari offerings contain flowers, leaves,
liquid fragrance,
and a symbolic betel quid.

Procession Rituals
Procession have different ritualistic functions: to guide the invited gods,
to collect water for the symbolic bathing of the gods, and to present each family’s offering to be blessed by the temple priest.
The gods are invited to enjoy the the essence of the offering, artistic performances, and the various ceremonies.

untitledPrayer
Prayer are followed
by the blessing of the believers
through the sprinkling
of holy water and the application
of blessed rice
on their foreheads.

Greeting The Gods
Dancers circle the temple’s central shrine three times, moving only to the right,
which symbolizes ascent of the sacred mountain.
This ritual is repeated around a shrine in front of the temple where the invisible deities’
followers are greeted.

Dance For The Deities
In ancient ritual dances, some masculine and warlike, the others feminine and graceful, devotees welcome the gods. If the dancers are to the evil spirits of the ground, the dancers pour alcohol as a sacrifice to the earth. Then a temple priast makes offerings to dispel the evil influence once the spirits have been drawn to the site.

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