Bali – Land of Ritual and Ceremony

Bali is the the land of a thousand temples and a thousand festivals, where religious adherence to a large number of rituals are an integral part of everyday life. A combination of traditional Hinduism and local indigenous beliefs, Balinese Hinduism has a rich tradition of both small and large ceremonies that commemorate everything from the loss of a tooth to the warding off of evil spirits. There are five distinct Hindu Balinese rituals such as the Dewa Yadnya, temple festivals that deal with the worship and reverence of the gods; and Buta Yadnya, which involves ritual sacrifice to allay demonic spirits. Others include Rsi Yadnya, rites honouring preists; Pitra Yadnya, rites relating to death; and Manusa Yadnya, rites to cleanse the inner soul of sin.

Among the major festivals in Bali are the Galungan, a major feast celebrating the annual descent of all the Gods to the earthly realm, followed ten days later by the Kuningan ceremony. Other big festivals are the Nyepi, an annual day of silence on the Hindu-Balinese dewaqq New Year; Saraswati, a day devoted to Dewi Saraswati, Goddess of knowledge and literature; and the temple festival of Odalan, an annual ceremony of the construction of a temple based on the 210 day Balinese calendar – due the the huge number of temples in Bali there are several Odalan festivals taking place throughout the the island on any given day.

Another important ritual in Balinese culture is the cremation of the departed. An integral part of Balinese life, cremation is a cheerful and communal affair where an entire village comes together in an elaborate ritual whose ultimate goal is placing the ashes of the departed in the sea. This act signals the final separation of soul (roh) from earthly body.

Many visitors to Bali have fallen in love with various ceremonies that celebrate creation both on a grand cosmic scale and on a more intimate personal scale. Some visitors have even opted to remain in Bali, a faraway island paradise where people take the time to celebrate the gods in heaven and the cycle of everyday life on earth – something lacking in today’s fast paced, spiritually bereft world.

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