Tajen Bali : The Island’s Ritual Cockfight

If you ever happen to notice a long line of Hondas parked along a narrow road, or men discreetely rushing along with a rattan basket slung over their shoulder, chances are they are off to a cockfight or tajen. Cockfighting is as natural to the Balinese as breathing. Long after it was officially banned by

Ayu Sekar

Metatah : A Balinese Teeth Filing (Done with Style)

Its not every day that some well placed person in Ubud society organises a huge metatah or tooth filing ceremony for her greater family, it was an affair to remember. Without mentioning any names, the event took place at the popular Honeymoon Guest House where twenty two children or young adults had their front teeth filed

The Melasti of the Full Moon

It looked almost like an Indian Kumbh Mela with the whole of Bali’s southeast coast covered with people dressed in white. Right to the misty distance, penjors and processions could be seen proceeding along the wave drenched coastline.  Dressed in their ceremonial best, the Balinese came from villages near and far to pray and be

Coming Clean: The Melukat Cleanse

It’s six thirty am and we are meeting at the carpark of Tirtha Empul, Bali’s most well known holy spring. This Hindu Balinese water temple in the cool highlands founded in 942 AD sees hundreds of visitors a day, coming to do a melukat or ritual cleanse. Surrounded by bathing pools and old growth trees

Tumpek Wayang Balinese Ceremony

Tumpek Wayang: The Lord of Puppets Celebrated

The Lord of Puppeteers, Sanghyang Iswara, is honoured when the Balinese Hindus celebrate Tumpek Wayang Day. On this day, puppeteers (Dalang) throughout the island will present offerings to their shadow puppets (wayang kulit) with the intention of honouring the Lord Iswara. The puppets are taken out from their cases to be blessed by their owners and

Hari Raya Kuningan: The Spirits Return to Heaven

10 Days after the Galungan ceremonies in Bali, Hari Raya Kuningan takes place. It marks the end of the full Galungan festival. In the Balinese calendar, Kuningan is in fact the third ‘tumpek’ ceremony of the Balinese year, which takes place on the Saturday of the 12th week of the Pakuwon cycle; it should in fact

Ngerebeg The Painted Boys of Tegallalang (3)

Ngerebeg and the Painted Boys of Tegallalang

Are they getting ready for a major music festival? Are they Vogue models? Is it Halloween? No they are Balinese boys engaged in a traditional ceremony. In Tegallalang and several other districts around Gianyar, the boys paint themselves up a storm before parading down the streets in a ceremony known as Ngerebeg . Before they

Magical Melukat: Purifying Our Mind, Body & Soul

Lost in the hills of Bangli is one of Bali’s most magical situations. People from all over Bali go to this beautiful spot, hidden behind verdant rice fields to cleanse their souls and bodies and maybe even heal their hearts. Melukat is just one of Bali’s magical rituals which involves using water as a ritual

Melasti Purification Ceremony NOW BALI 4

Melasti: Island-Wide Purification

One of the precursors to Nyepi is the melasti ceremony, also known as ‘melis’. Whilst just as visually extravagant as a piodalan temple ceremony, melasti is of incredible importance to the annual (and sometimes more) rites of the Balinese Hindu. During this ceremony, lines and lines of local Hindus will journey to the sea or

A Balinese Wedding

Getting married, for a Balinese, means a huge life-changing event that begins with a big celebration that can take days. A wedding in Balinese tradition doesn’t only involve love between the couple, but it means making a relationship to the whole extended family as well as the institution that is built based on tradition and


Hari Saraswati : Bali’s Celebration of Knowledge

Hari Saraswati, or Saraswati Day, is a special day in Bali celebrating Saraswati the Goddess of Knowledge: Bali is unique with its assorted cultural manners that have been recorded in legends and preserved in its religion, Balinese Hinduism. And although the tourism boom and modernisation have set off to sneak their way into many areas

The March of the Barongs

Those friendly, loveable Balinese Barongs get up to all kinds of tricks. This lion like creature holds a most important place in the pantheon of Balinese gods, sacred spirits and mythology and is held in great reverence by every Balinese. For a banjar to own a beautiful barong is a sign of status and much

Ngaben: The Celebration of Death

For the Balinese, and from their spiritual perspective, death is no less essential to life, for it’s part of a continuous cycle: Birth-life-death. And just like celebrating birth and life, a ceremony will also be performed to send the dead through the transition to the next life (reincarnation). The Balinese cremation ceremony, called Ngaben or

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