As a little background to this post, behind the team here at Dorotea Gale is Dewi Cristina and Saerah Dewi- we both share Balinese heritage and visit the island and our families whenever we get the chance. We’ll be showcasing our range at the Bali Jazz Markets by the Sea in August from the 14th to the 16th and decided to stretch out our stay over a month!
We made it to Bali just in time to catch the holy day of Kuningan, a peaceful time celebrated every 210 days. Kuningan marks the end of the Galungan holiday, which celebrates the victory of Dharma over Adharma. During this time, Balinese gods and ancestors descend and return to earth and the latter to their former family homes, where prayers and offerings are made to celebrate their return to earth. Offerings are busily made throughout the days of Galungan including nasi kuning, a type of yellow rice colored with tumeric. This special offering (also a delicious specialty dish!) represents the gratitude for a prosperous life. Other offerings can range from nuts and seeds to fish and fruit like apples and pears.
Temples, altars and symbolic statues are lavishly decorated with flowers, banten, tamiang and endongan.
Flowers play a large part in prayer rituals, often placed between fingers, behind the ears and tucked into hair.
On the days leading up to and on Kuningan day tamiang and endongan decorations hang around temples and homes, both beautiful and deep in meaning. The Tamiang (picture to the left) is a a rounded decoration representing protection, defense, and the continuous cycle of life and the world. The Tamiang is a deterrent, and its emblem is protective. In addition to the shield symbolism, it also symbolizes the turning of the wheel of nature, known as cakraning panggilingan. This touches on the laws of nature- a powerful reminder that one should protect themselves from bad behavior and actions towards themselves, others, and their environment.
Endongan is made of coconut leaves and shaped like a bag or a pocket. The Balinese put different things like seeds, fruits and tubers inside the endongan. Some people see it as a symbol of food supply for the journey of the ancestors from earth to heaven. Throughout the festival almost every home, office, shop etc will have a penjor, a tall bamboo pole usually decorated with fruit, coconut leaves, and flowers, set up on the right of the entrance. One will also find small bamboo altars set up especially for the holiday, each one bearing woven palm-leaf offerings for the spirits.
While we didn't make it for the Galungan part of the festival, we were lucky enough to be here for last (certainly not the least) of to the ten day festival, Kuningan. It is believed that on this particular day, the supreme god Sang Hyang Widi descends to earth to give blessing for all the people. As closure to the series of Galungan rituals, Kuningan also marks the return of all the gods and ancestors to their own realm.
No matter what you believe, it's certainly a beautiful time in Bali to be surrounded by such a rich culture and history. The Balinese really know how to decorate, too! Both of us here at Dorotea Gale feel incredibly lucky to share a heritage with an island so full of life, color and vibrancy. Most definitely experiencing this culture from a young age has influenced the creative path that we chose!