Galungan - this year falling on Wednesday, May 3, 2006, begins a 10 day celebration of fundamental importance on the Bali Hindu calendar and a particularly interesting time for visitors to be on the most spiritual of islands.
Marking the beginning of a window lasting ten days, Galungan and Kuningan is the period when the spirits of deceased ancestors descend to earth to once again be among their families. In order to welcome and appease both ken and kin, ancestral temples are cleaned, special offerings are made, and dances are presented to humor the hearts and bring contentment to those members of the family, now deceased, back for a brief reunion with family and friends.
Celebrating the triumph of good over evil, Balinese also see this as a period of introspection and self-correction; a time to repudiate those negative elements in their personality - such as deceit, thievery, violence, anger and jealousy. Balinese staff working across the island are given leave days at this time to return to their home villages and attend to ancestral temples during the celebration of Galungan and its complementing holiday of Kuningan, ten days later.
Visitors driving across the island during these holidays are certain to see giant Penjor - bamboo altar-poles, decorating streets and doorways of every village. Their looming presence, forming hallowed tunnels of palm leaf left and right down villages lanes, proclaim an ancient victory of Dharma over King Mayadanawa, an evil and godless king who once controlled Bali.
Galungan and the celebration of Kuningan ten days later on Saturday, May 13, 2006, when ancestral spirits again take their leave of this earth, is a very special period when the people of Bali are on their very best behavior: every village bustles with musical and dance performances; streets are clogged with elegantly dressed families carrying huge mounds of breathtakingly beautiful offerings to nearby temples; and the Balinese feel a very special attachment with their families, friends and the island they love.
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