Renowned for its bright, culture-rich ceremonies, Bali is a haven for travellers wanting to explore some of the world’s longest-standing rituals. Spend only a few days on the island and you’ll be sure to see any number of festivities being celebrated by enthusiastic locals, be they a solemn religious affair or a lively and lavish occasion.
Of course, if you’re looking to celebrate the most important festival in Balinese culture, schedule your visit around the times of Galungan, celebrated every 210 days. This festival signifies the victory of good over evil, and when ancestral spirits and Balinese deities descend to earth to be honoured. Gracefully arched bamboo poles tower over the streets, decorated with natural ornamentation. Ten days later, the festival ends and the spirits ascend back into heaven.
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Nyepi is the day after the dark moon of the March equinox. It might be Bali’s day of silence, but the days leading up to this festival are lavish and outrageously fun. There’s a religious bent to this festival – you’ll see effigies of the gods taken in processions from village temples to sacred springs, seas and rivers for purification – but there’s also an exciting carnival aspect. Evil spirits are driven away with gongs, drums, cymbals, firecrackers, and papier-mâché monsters (‘ogoh-ogoh’). Take a look at the Ogoh-ogoh’s fangs, bulging eyes and wild hair, and you’ll be a mite scared, too.
And then there’s the full moon, or ‘Purnama’ – one of Bali’s most auspicious days. Here, locals celebrate healing and guidance, perform good deeds, and use the time for completion. The gods are worshipped with food, fruit and floral offerings, paraded to temples across the island. According to Balinese Hindu tradition, the gods descend to the earth at every full moon to bestow their blessings on locals.
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If you’re visiting Bali, it’s well worth timing your visit with any number of festivals; however, if you like your culture with five-star luxury thrown in, book your stay at InterContinental Bali Resort. Time your stay right and you’ll be able to see the full moon parade up close as it weaves its way around the rest, starting at the lobby and ending at the resort’s temple.
For more information, visit InterContinental Bali Resort – the friendly staff will help you organise your stay and your exploration of Balinese culture.