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
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.
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.
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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