A Quick Guide to Some Common Balinese Ceremonies
Bali is and island humming with culture and religion. The Balinese Hindus are dedicated worshippers and daily life revolves around appeasing both good and bad spirits to create balance.
Although there are ceremonies going on all over the island on a daily basis, it can be difficult as an outsider to know what they are all about. Today we’re talking about some of the most common Balinese ceremonies you might see while you’re staying at Lotus Bungalows Candidasa.
Although Bali is often called ‘The Island of a Thousand Temple” there are actually closer to 4,500 temples. Odalan is the anniversary of a temple’s consecration and is held every 210 days.
Of course an Odalan can fall any day of the year (except Nyepi) so there are Odalan happening all over the island every day.
These ceremonies usually last for 3 days but special Odalan occurring every 5, 10, 30 or 100 years can be up to 2 weeks long. During Odalan offerings are taken daily to the temple, people visit to pray and music and dance is performed inside or in the courtyard of the temple.
Every full moon or Purnama is considered a day when God answers prayers and therefore offerings are made in every home and temple. Students also wear their temple clothing to school on Purnama and pray in the school temple.
Purnama is also a day said to be auspicious for planting, so on this day every month you might see more action in the fields as people hope for a good harvest.
Ngaben or cremation is probably the most dramatic of all ceremonies. Balinese Hindus believe that humans must be cleansed by fire and undergo a number of rituals so they can be reincarnated.
Although some families choose to cremate their deceased straight away, it is common practice for villages to hold a mass cremation every 5 years. Depending on the size of the village, this can mean sending off up to 100 villagers at a time. This is done because cremations are very expensive and if the financial burden can be shared it is much easier for families to afford.
Cremations are joyous occasions where families send their beloved off to their next life so there is no need for tears. Foreigners are welcomed to watch and if you get to see ngaben you will never forget it!
The tooth cutting ceremony or mepandes is a right of passage that every Balinese Hindu must undertake. Mepandes is meant to be performed at the onset of puberty, but is often grouped with other ceremonies like marriages.
During this ceremony the top teeth are filed down to get rid of animalstic characteristics and also shed vices like lust, anger, greed, and jealousy.
The person getting their teeth filed is very vulnerable during this ceremony and is surrounded by family and friends. If you get invited to a mepandes ceremony you know you are trusted by the family.
Melasti ceremonies are held every year before Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence. Nyepi is the beginning of the new year on the Balinese Saka calendar, which requires everyone to be cleansed beforehand. Melasti is conducted on beaches, in rivers and in lakes where prayers and ritual cleansing is done.
Each village has a set time do their melasti, as the roads would become chaos if everyone tried to go at the same time. In the few days before Nyepi you will see trucks of villagers, offerings, their gamelan orchestra all coming to or from melasti.
Many villages go early in the morning and pray on the beach as the sun rises. This is an incredible sight and a wonderful way to start a day.
There are of course hundreds more ceremonies that the Hindus of Bali undertake every day. You can see offerings in the streets, watch processions of villagers in the roads, and hear the music from the temples all over the island.
Would seeing Balinese ceremonies interest you? If you have any questions about temple etiquette or where to see ceremonies around Lotus Bungalows Candidasa, leave us a message in the comments box below.