Bali’s Galungan Festival- Just like Christmas

One of Bali’s major festivals is Galungan. It reminded me of our Christmas celebrations so I thought that now was a good time to tell you about it. Galungan is a time when the spirits of ancestors return to earth to live with the family. They return for five days before the festival and don’t leave until ten days after the festival. The families are very busy for a month before making decorations, cooking rice cakes and collecting incense.

Our stay on Lembongan Island earlier in the year coincided with the festival. On our early morning walks through the local village we could see all this activity taking place. Tall bamboo poles with simple decorations are placed outside the entrance to every house creating a festive atmosphere.
These poles are called panjors. They are made by weaving coconut leaves into the bamboo and they are then decorated with fruit, cakes and flowers.

Making a panjor for Galungan, Lembongan

Weaving coconut leaves on to the panjor


Festive panjor on Lembongan

Our neighbour's panjor


Panjors in the local village, Lembongan

Panjors in the local village


Panjor decorations, Lembongan

The decorations at the base of the panjor


Decorations on the panjor, Lembongan

Decorations on the panjor


On the actual day of the festival, everyone dresses in their best clothes and jewellery and the offerings that they have been busy making are then offered to the family shrine. The married women then visit the shrines of their parents. Later in the day, everyone gathers in the lanes to be entertained by the barong- a mythical beast that protects them and the musicians that follow.

Beautifully dressed local girl, Lembongan

Beautifully dressed local girl ready for the festival


Offerings to the Gods, Lembongan

Offerings to the gods


Small shrine on Lembongan

Smaller decorated shrine


Shrine under the Banayan Tree, Lembongan

Shrine under the Banyan tree


Where have you enjoyed local festivals?





You may also like:

La Festa di San Giorgio La Festa di San Giorgio

The Fishermen of Sciacca The Fishermen of Sciacca

Salina's Caper Festival Salina’s Caper Festival

the Seige of Canelli The Seige of Canelli

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11 Responses to Bali’s Galungan Festival- Just like Christmas

  1. Turkey's For Life December 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Lucky you, being on the island at the time of the festival. Great photos. Love the one of the child in her best clothes for the special day.

    • atasteoftravel December 18, 2011 at 7:41 am #

      I love local festivals so I’m always excited when my travels coincide with one. The Balinese girl loved having her photo taken- she was so sweet!

  2. Debra Kolkka December 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    That little girl is gorgeous!

    • atasteoftravel December 18, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      She was so pleased to have her photo taken! The Balinese are such lovely people – it was a beautiful time to be amongst them

  3. Krista December 18, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    What a beautiful festival! I love the idea of the spirits of family members coming to visit once a year. (With some of them, that’s all I could handle! ;-))

    • atasteoftravel December 18, 2011 at 7:52 am #

      It was lovely to be here at this time. Most of the Balinese live with their extended families so this festival is important for them.

  4. marina December 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    Your photos are so lovely – I hope to get to Bali someday and to take part in a festival like that. And the photo of the little girl is too adorable. What a cute face!

    • atasteoftravel December 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      Thanks Marina. Bali is a special place. It’s great to escape the hustle and bustle and spend a few days on Lembongan as well. The little girl was standing so proudly by the gate. She didn’t say much but all she had to do was smile and we melted!

  5. Karen (Back Road Journal) December 19, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Local festivals are so interesting…thank you for sharing your experience.

  6. jan December 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    We visited Bali 30 years ago and are hesitant to return as it will have changed so dramatically. Do you think Lembongan is less commercialised that the mainland?

    • atasteoftravel December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      Bali has changed a lot. We even comment how much it has changed year after year! The paddie fields are disappearing very quickly as development spreads north from Seminyak. I still love Bali but Lembongan certainly offers a taste of the old uncommercialised Bali. It’s changing too but I doubt it will ever be another Kuta!

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