Twice a year the Balinese celebrate the ten-day Galungan holiday which symbolizes the fight between good and evil….And every six months evil gets its butt kicked.
One of the forces that helps defeat evil during Galungan is the strength of Balinese families. Not only can all the living family members be called upon to help, but conveniently, Galungan is a time when all the ancestors happen to be visiting so they too can summoned as spiritual reinforcements.
And finally, Galungan is a family holiday where mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and kids gather to swap the latest family gossip, catch up on family news and pray together.
Of course, the drama of evil versus good, ancestor worship and family reunion that make up Galungan are celebrated with ritual and ceremony. We were part of all this on the last day of Galungan when Indra invited us to his family temple for their Galungan ceremony.
The family temple is located on a mountain top which requiring a steep 30-minute hike through groves of coconut, clove and nutmeg trees. It features a large temple for the ancestors and numerous other smaller temples for the other Gods watching over the family members. The family is part of the Arya Kaloping clan which over the past several hundred years has spread out across Bali and the world. But wherever a family members is located, he or she will always have this place to call home. It’s a very powerful way to keep grounded especially in today’s mobile society.
The family welcomed us as their own to the ceremony. It began by neutralizing the evil gods by giving them some arak (palm whiskey) and stuffing them with food such as eggs and coconut. How else would you deal with evil?
After temporarily subduing evil, the ceremony could move on to the traditional Balinese prayers, water purification ceremony and honoring the ancestors.
After the ceremony we ate a communal dinner of rice, chicken and a country sambal (spicy sauce) that made me sweat even in the cool evening air…
And finally we spent the night visiting and then fell asleep under the stars.
Final Score: Good: 10 Evil: 0….but a rematch has been scheduled in six months.