Bali went quiet during the Galungan period on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, as many businesses closed to permit Balinese Hindus to return to ancestral villages to celebrate the holidays with family members, both living and deceased. Galungan marks the commencement of a 10-day religious cycle that ends with Kuningan festivities Ė a period in which the spirits of dead family members are believed to return and join clan members via prayers and offerings at family temples. In a larger sense, Galungan is also the celebration of the victory of good over evil, a period in which many Balinese will make a yearly pilgrimage to Bali's mother-temple of Besakih.
On March 18th many residential homes were left empty in the island's capital of Denpasar, deserted as families returned to their birthplace or, as is increasingly the case in "modern" Bali, the birthplace of their parents or grandparents. The few Balinese still found in the capital were almost invariably dressed in traditional temple garments mandatory for the prayers and offerings made at the Merajan shrine found in every Balinese family compound. Many Balinese involved in essential services on that day also came to their places of employment clad in traditional garments, offering their prayers at nearby office temples.
Denpasar's main temple of Pura Jagatnatha was filled with Balinese devotees; women clad in fine kebayas and the men wearing layered sarongs and the traditional udeng headdress, modeled on the head of a fighting cock.
The Galungan celebrations typically consumes three days, this year stretching from March 17 Ė 19, 2009.
In the midst of the Galungan-Kuningan 10 day cycle, Bali will also mark New Year day on the Bali-Hindu calendar on March 26, 2009. That date or "Nyepi" is a uniquely Balinese celebration during which the entire island comes to a halt for a 24 hour period as Balinese, local residents and island visitors are confined to their homes or hotels. [See: Thereís a Kind of Hush, All Over the Isle]
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