3 Indonesian and Balinese festivals you should know about

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Are you planning to travel to Indonesia quite soon? Before going anywhere you should always check if there any specific festivities. Indonesia is a well-known place for its beaches and relaxing atmosphere but the population also knows how to party and have fun.

Let me introduce you to the top 3 festivals in Indonesia, Bali region. Depending on when you are planning to travel and what is more appealing to you, I am sure you will find some of these festivals to be of interest.

Some background facts …

800px-Map_Indonesian_religions

Indonesia is the home to over 250 million inhabitants spread over 17,000 islands, Indonesia is one of the most populated countries in South East Asia. In terms of population the capital, Jakarta, has over 10 million inhabitants followed by Surabaya, Bandung, Meda, Semarang and Makassar. Most of these cities are locating in Java. One of the most well-known touristic cities in Indonesia (and Java) is Bali due to its wide range of activities going from beaches to temples.

Galungan Festival

galungan

Galungan is the most famous festival for the Hindu population in Bali. During this celebration, Hindus honor Ida Sang Hying Widi, which is in Hindu’s beliefs, the creator of the universe. They also honor their ancestors by making offerings and showing their gratitude. Finally, it symbolizes the victory of the Dharma (representing the good) over Adharma (the evil).

When does Galungan occur? It happens only once during the Balinese calendar which works on a  210-day cycle. The day varies year per year, but the chosen day marks the return of ancestors and other spirits on earth.

People would use firecrackers and incantations to scare away evil spirits. As for the ancestors and good spirits, Indonesians Hindus would go make offerings in local , praying and honoring the good spirits and ancestors. They also make sure to buy new clean clothes, dance and prepare nice dishes.

 Nyepi festival

nyepi

Nyepi, a Hindu tradition, which is also called the “Day of Silence” is celebrated every Saka New Year (Isakawarsa) based on the Balinese calendar. Just like the previous festival, the Day of Silence varies according to the yea rand Balinese Calendar. It is mainly located in Bali and for Hindus but even non-Hindus and foreigners are welcome to participate in the festivities.

As you may have understood from the name, it is called the day of silence because shops and stores would usually all be closed on that day while on the previous few days Indonesian would be cleaning their home, Gods status, pray and undertake several traditional rituals.  It is also an important moment for fasting and having a rest. To “energetic” activities such as traveling, dancing, firecrackers and even eating are usually not allowed on that day.

The National Day

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Finally, we have one of the most important celebrated days at a national level, the Independence day. It is celebrated every year on the August 17th. Indonesia was actually a Dutch colony until the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence signed by the president at that time Sakerno and vice-president Muhammad Hatta. Even though there was some debate about the real date of Indonesian Independence, it is now set to have  occurred on Friday, 17 august 1945.

Further reading:

 

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