Galungan: when Balinese Ancestors Return to Earth


The Balinese festival of Galungan symbolises the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). To Balinese Hindus, it is one of the most important events of the 210-day year, a time when they express their gratitude to the creator of the universe, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi. It is a time of feasting, when many return to their villages to celebrate with their families and welcome their visiting spirit ancestors.

Streets throughout the island are decorated with tall bamboo poles called penjor, decorated with fruit, coconut leaves, and flowers. The photos in this post were taken by my partner during the past week, in Ubud.


At the entrances to homes, shops and cafes, and even car bonnets, offerings are left for the spirits on woven palm leaves or bamboo altars.
Some can be quite grand, with generous quantities of fruit and other gifts.

And what better time than a festival to wear your finest clothes and to take the family out on a motor bike.
family on bike
It is a great shame not to have been able to join my partner on this joyous and colourful occasion. More so as my good friend Mel Thompson, author, photographer and commentator on all things spiritual and philosophical, will be there next week. But I do hope to return in July.

Dates for Galungan in 2014 are: May 21-May 31 2014 and December 17-December 27 2014.