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A Day for Goddess Saraswati

A Celebration of Learning and Knowledge on the Island of Bali.

(9/9/2002) Saturday, September 7, 2002, was Umanis Watugunung on the complex Balinese calendar, the final day in the 210 day lunar cycle set aside to honor the anniversary of the Lord Brahma's Consort, the Goddess Saraswati.

An important and most sacred day in the Balinese religious calendar, Hari Saraswati is a day set aside to honor those virtues the Goddess was thought to embody – learning, wisdom and the arts. It is a day on which teachers, books, libraries, and ancient manuscripts are honored. Ironically, it is also a day on which reading is prohibited.

An official holiday for followers of the Hindu faith, Saturday was a day that saw the Balinese in their costumed finery traveling by truck and motorbike to pray en masse at major temples and religious sites.

On Sunday, the Balinese celebrated Banyupinaruh - a day of ritual bathing on the island's rivers and seaside's. Then, on Monday, the Balinese mark Somaribek by filling the family larders with life's basic commodities.

In one sense, this period on the local calendar can be seen as days of spiritual renewal when the Balinese honor the continuing cycle of tradition and the collective heritage which forms a centerpiece to their lifes. First they honor their roots and traditions as recorded in Bali's cultural literature, then renew and refresh their spirits through ritual bathing, and on the last day replenish basic need of the body for nourishment in order to continue on life's journey.