Each ceremony performed has a specific intention and is held in accordance with the Balinese calendar. Each ceremony performed has a specific intention and is held in accordance with the Balinese calendar. The Balinese year is about 6.5 months long and the calendar provides information about the predominant energies of the day, which is is important so that ceremonies can be performed without disturbing obstacles on the appropriate day.
There are personal ceremonies, each an important part of a Balinese person’s life: a baby’s three-month ceremony, birthday ceremonies held according to the date of their birth in the Balinese calendar, tooth filing, wedding, and cremation. Then there are various inner cleansing ceremonies, those help people on their way through life.
There are also cleansing ceremonies for specific places.
Significant in the Balinese year is Odalan, the temple consecration ceremonies for the three community temples in each village. These are always celebrated on the day of the original temple consecration, corresponding to the church consecration celebrations in Europe.
The highest holidays are Galungan and Kuningan, during which the ancestors and gods are invited to the worldly realms for 12 days, where they are honored, and then bid farewell.
Both the temple consecration ceremony Odalan and the high holiday Galungan require the cooperation of the whole village, and much preparation. Every household and temple prepares the necessary offerings in the weeks before the ceremony. Well known dances are newly practiced, and the gamelan orchestra rehearses on many evenings, clearly audible in the warm evenings and nights throughout the village.
This immense expenditure of time and money is given with gratitude and devotion to “everything that is” or in hinduistic parlance: to the gods. Therefore, it is in fact the devotion of the people that creates the “good energy”.
For those who have trouble understanding that you can feel atmosphere, here is an example. If people often argue in a house and the air feels so thick you can cut it with a knife, the atmosphere feels very different from a house where people treat each other as lovingly as possible and shoulder responsibility together.
There have been several traditions worldwide that respected invisible energies and lived in harmony and balance with them. But this knowledge has been lost in many places, and replaced by new social values that emphasize individual wealth and success – rather than community. One of the few places left where the balance of energies is still collectively ensured is Bali.