What to See in Bali During the Kuningan Celebration

Kuningan Day in Bali marks the end of the Galungan holiday.  The Balinese celebrate this day as the time that their ancestors return to heaven after visiting Earth.  It is one of the most important Balinese holidays, and if you are in Bali during the festival and not busy on the beach you can certainly expect to see some unique cultural events and unique religion celebrations going on.

galungan bali holifday

The Days Leading up to Kuningan

The Galungan holiday runs every 210 days.  This is when the ancestors and spirits come to Earth to visit.  All around Bali you will see rituals meant to welcome and entertain the spirits—think large feasts, music, and dances.  The celebrations last for ten days, and the décor on houses and temples is very noticeable.

Kuningan Day

This is the end of the Galungan holiday, and it is this day that the Balinese send their ancestors back to heaven and offer up gifts.  The celebrations take place before noon, as midday marks the time that their ancestors ascend.

Common offerings for this day include yellow rice in a bowl of coconut leaves—the word Kuningan comes from kuning, which means yellow.  It is a symbol of gratitude to God for life’s joys and prosperity.  Other offerings included in the bowl are seeds, papaya, cucumber, and shadow puppets that represent the angels that bring good health, riches, and happiness to the world.


Things to See When Visiting

When you are visiting the island, take your time and enjoy the festivities, dress, songs, stories and  food.  The streets today was very busy, as locals will be out visiting houses and temples, dressed in their finest clothes.  Right before Galungan begins, some villages perform animal sacrifices on pigs and other livestock—so if blood makes you squeamish you may want to avoid these areas.

While in Bali, visit temples!  Notice the penjor­—tall bamboo poles decorated with coconut leaves, flowers, and fruit that adorn the houses and temples, for the Balinese is like a Christmas tree, a special moment where all family member make the most amazing street decoration in front of the house.  It is here that the offering bowls are placed.  Don’t miss out on seeing a Barong dance, either.  The dancing troupes visit the villages and perform this traditional dance that is a representation of the fight between good and evil.  The best place to enjoy the Kuningan celebrations is in Ubud, the heart of the action.  It will be very busy here, so expect hectic traffic and a sensory overload on the streets!

This beautiful celebration marks an excellent time to visit Bali.  The traditional values, the respect for their ancestors, and their joy for the prosperity of their lives is a refreshing take on the modern world and it is a joy to be a part of.