BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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THE CALENDAR

The calendar that regulates the social and religious life of Bali is an intricate mechanism by which not only all communal and private festivals are established, but even the most ordinary actions of the Balinese are determined. No Balinese can hope for success in any undertaking unless it is performed on the exact auspicious day set aside on the calendar for the purpose; a wedding, a tooth-filing, a cremation, the occupation of a new house, take place only during special weeks dedicated to the affairs of human beings, while there are other similar weeks and a for activities concerning cattle, fowl, fish, trees, and bamboo (consecutive periods of seven days called ingkel: wong, sato, mina, manuk, taru, and buku) .

The Balinese use two simultaneous systems of time-calculation: one, the saka,¹ the Hindu solar-lunar year, similar to ours in duration, twelve months, " moons," by which they observe the full (purnama) and the " dark " or new moons (tilem) important for agriculture, for nyepi, and for the festivals of the mountain people. The other, the wuku year, the so-called native or Javanese-Balinese. year of 210 days, is not officially divided into months, but into weeks, ten of them running parallel and simultaneously, from a week of one day in which every day is called luang, a week of two days, one of three, of four, five, and so forth, up to a week of ten days.

Each day of each of the ten weeks receives a special name, the combination of names determining the character of a date as a lucky or unlucky day. Thus every day theoretically receives ten different names, plus the month of the saka year and the " age " of the moon, according to whether it is crescent or waning; for instance, Sunday, the 4th of November of 1934, the beginning of the wuku year, was, according to them: saka year 1856, wuku of sinta, ingkel wong (good for humans) , redite, paing, paseh, tungleh, sri, sri, danggu - only one endowed with the sakti and the knowledge of a high priest could keep track of such a tangle of names.

Ordinary Balinese reckon simple dates, auspicious days for making offerings and for the principal feasts, by the combination of daynames of the seven- and five-day weeks, by which names everyday dates are recorded. The common people also observe the week of three days by which the village market day is established, held in rotation every day in one of the villages that work in , groups of three.

Other date names are used mainly for magic and religious purposes, making of the calendar a science so complicated in itself that it is practised mainly by specialists, generally the Brahmanic priests and witch-doctors, who, by the ownership of intricate charts (tika) with secret symbols painted on paper or carved in wood, and of palm-leaf manuscripts (wariga) by which the lucky or unlucky dates are located, make the people dependent on them for this purpose, because the Balinese are obliged to consult them for good dates for every special undertaking and have to pay for the consultation.

Galunggan. Nyepi is the acknowledged New Year feast of the solar-lunar year, but the Balinese celebrate another " new year " in the great holiday of galunggan, when the ancestral spirits come down to earth to dwell again in the homes of their descendants. The ancestors supposedly arrive five days before the day of galunggan, receive many offerings, and go back to heaven after ten days, five days before kuninggan, the feast of all souls.

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