Kuningan in Bali

Kuningan in Bali during Piodalan at Pura Sakenan

Kuningan in Bali is a perfect time to be on this blessed island, a time of wonderful celebration and one which is never to far away occurring every 210 days!

Balinese Dancers prepare at the Piodalan during Kuningan in Bali
Balinese Dancers prepare at the Piodalan during Kuningan in Bali


Kuningan on the Indonesian Hindu Island of Bali is a time of great Celebration and a Balinese holiday. It is part of the Galungan Festival which takes place every 210 days according to the Balinese Calendar and is of great religious importance to the Hindu’s  because Hinduism is Bali’s predominant Religion.
Kuningan falls on the tenth day of Galungan and at Pura Sakenan or Sakenan Temple on Serangan Island (Pulau Serangan) it coincides with the Temple Anniversary known as Piodalan.


Balinese Hindus Pray at a Temple Anniversary
Balinese Hindus Pray at Pura Dalem Sakenan for the Piodalan or Temple Anniversary 
during Kuningan


Galungan itself marks the most important time of religious ceremonies for Balinese Hindu’s, it is a time to celebrate the victory of Dharma over Adharma. Dharma in Hindu or Buddhist religion can be roughly translated as the right way of living or conduct according to universal laws. Adharma which is the antonym of dharma means that which is “not dharma” or that which goes against nature, unethical, immoral and wrong doing or unlawful acts.


Kuningan in bali most important Religious days
Kuningan is one of the most important Religious days in the Balinese Calendar


If anybody has been to Bali during Galungan and Kuningan they would notice lining the streets of villages, towns and cities what is known as Penjor, which can be extremely long lengths of Bamboo hand crafted with offerings suspended at the tips, the weight usually causes the bamboo poles to droop at the top which makes them aesthetically pleasing and a sure sign that the celebratory time is in full swing.


Penjor at Galungan in Bali
Penjor-Decorated Bamboo Poles at Galungan in Bali


A few days prior to Galungan there are a number of activities that take place.
3 days before
Cooking of bananas for offerings
2 days before
Making of jaja (fried rice cakes)
1 day before
Slaughtering of pigs or turtles for feasts
1 day after
Manis Galungan
Visiting family
10 days after
Prayers, offerings – spirits return to heaven
Kuningan which falls 10 Days after the beginning of Galungan is a special day for Hindu’s and most will dress up in their finest traditional clothes and visit their local temple to pray and give offerings. At some temples it will be a small scale affair but at others such as Pura Sakenan celebrations can last for 3 days.
Kuningan day is when the Balinese believe their ancestors return to heaven after visiting the earth during Galungan. offerings are given to the ancestors on Kuningan the farewell day and usually consist of Yellow rice (Kuning means yellow in the Indonesian language), fruit, fish, and flowers all contained in a small bowl made of coconut palm leaves. This all amounts to a very colourful aromatic display when stacked lovingly on the temple altar with smoke from sticks of incense permeating the air.

Offerings placed at the front of the Temple Altar
Offerings placed at the front of the Temple Altar
What makes Sakenan Temple so special is that it holds its Piodalan or Temple Anniversary on the day of Kuningan which itself is a hugely celebrated day. Add to that the Temple Anniversary and we have one heck of an event! People flock not only from Pulau Serangan itself ie. the locals but they also come from much further afield within the island of Bali. The Piodalan which coincides with Kuningan last for 3 days, the first two being the most eventful. The day celebrations at the temple include traditional music, Tari Topeng (Balinese Mask Dance) and Beautiful Balinese girls in traditional costume performing a cultural dance.
Balinese Mask Dancer prepares for the show
Balinese Mask Dancer at kuningan in bali
Another mask another character at Tari Topeng
Another mask another character at Tari Topeng
Tari Topeng or Balinese Mask Dance
Tari Topeng or Balinese Mask Dance

With hundreds of people pouring in to Sakenan Temple throughout the day carrying offerings (the women normally carry colourful woven baskets on the head) it is also a glorious day for paying respects to their ancestors and for a family outing with warungs (local eateries) set up on the roads leading to the temple selling all manner of food and gifts, fresh barbecued fish being a popular eat due to this small Balinese island’s proximity to the sea.

Balinese girls traditional dance
Balinese girls perform a traditional cultural dance


Troupe of traditional Balinese Dancing Girls
The Troupe of traditional Balinese Dancing Girls


The third day is much less active and is more of a winding down day with the final Hindu Worshipers down to a trickle, the last vestige of traditional music rings fading off into the distance as Pura Sakenan begins to look like its old calm and tranquil self, until the next event of course!

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