12 REASONS TO VISIT EAST BALI
Add a touch of magic to your East Bali holiday
01 January 2016
A visit to Bali anytime of the year is likely to coincide with one of the island’s year-round calendar of enthralling temple ceremonies and religious festivals. East Bali in particular, being home to Bali’s majestic Mount Agung, sacred temples, and ancient villages, that still live and dance to age-old traditions, offers a chance to witness some of the most unique ceremonies and rituals.
At its serene coastal setting in East Bali, Alila Manggis is perfectly placed to offer guests all the blissful indulgences of a relaxing holiday combined with real insights into Bali life through countless fascinating events. Here are some highlights of what you can experience in the coming year.
February & September 2016 - Galungan & Kuningan
Galungan is one of the most important religious festivals celebrated by the Balinese, marking the triumph of good over evil. Following the 210-day Balinese calendar, Galungan will next occur from 10 - 20 February 2016, and again from 7 - 17 September 2016, bringing ten days of joyous festivities. Immerse in the celebratory atmosphere as the Balinese, dressed in their ceremonial best, honour the spirits of their ancestors, which are believed to return to earth, with prayers and offerings, and the traditional Barong dance is performed on the streets. On the final day, Kuningan, special offerings are made to bid farewell to the ancestral spirits.
During Galungan, locals from the surrounding villages in East Bali also make a pilgrimage to Lempuyang Temple, known locally as Pura Lempuyang Luhur, one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples. The main reason for the pilgrimage is to obtain holy water, which stems from a yellow bamboo plant that grows in shrubs in the inner courtyard of the temple. Situated high on the peak of Mount Lempuyang, the temple is reached via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps. The effort is worth it though to take in the picturesque vistas of the lush surroundings that stretch to Mount Agung, Bali’s highest peak.
9 March 2016 - Nyepi Day
Marking the Balinese New Year, Nyepi is an experience unlike any other – a day of silence, fasting and meditation. Festivities begin on the eve of Nyepi Day when ‘ogoh ogoh’, giant paper and bamboo puppets that symbolise evil spirits, are paraded around the streets before being burnt to ashes in a cemetery. On Nyepi Day itself, silence is observed from 6 am until 6 am the next morning. Just imagine… empty roads, little or no noise, few signs of activity. A precious time for self-reflection as well as a moment of respite for Mother Earth.
23 March 2016 - Full Moon Ceremony at Besakih Temple
The 10th Full Moon is considered highly significant amongst Balinese Hindus and is observed with festivals in major temples islandwide. The mother temple Besakih, located on the slopes of sacred Mount Agung, holds a special ceremony known as Ida Betara Turun Kabeh. Devotees invite deities and other important ancestors to descend to the temple where they receive blessings in what is one of the most elaborate Hindu rituals you will see in Karangasem regency, just one hour’s drive from Alila Manggis.
June 2016 - Mekare Kare Duel at Tenganan Village
Nearby Tenganan Village is an ancient village where daily life still follows the Bali Aga (pre-Hindu) culture and traditions. The village’s annual ‘mekare kare’ is an extraordinary sight – a theatrical fight between the young men of the village, using prickly pandanus leaf whips! Each duel is staged to the intense martial sounds of ‘gamelan selonding’ music, and lasts only a few seconds, accompanied by much merriment and laughter. The attacks are warded off with tightly woven ‘ata’ vine shields.
There are no winners or losers; the objective is to draw blood as an offering to the gods. After the battles, the combatants’ wounds are treated with a stinging mixture of alcohol and turmeric, leaving no scars. Meanwhile, the women of the village don the famous hand-woven double ikat textiles, known as ‘Geringsing’, that is believed to possess the power to protect the wearer from sickness and evil.
20 & 21 July 2016 - Rejang Gegitayan at Ngis Village
Ngis is considered one of the old Bali villages, built hundreds of years ago by 55 people from the Klungkung kingdom. Every year, the villagers engage in a temple ceremony, a highlight of which is the Mabuang Dance ritual performed by the village youth and the descendants of Klungkung kingdom. This dance is a form of respect to the creator of the universe and a reminder to man to guard the sky and all that live on earth, maintaining stability and balance.
September 2016 - Usaba Daratan at Selumbung Village
Bali’s religious ceremonies exude a magical aura, often incorporating sacred dances during which performers are in a trance. Displaying the power of the gods through the human body, they inspire a mixture of awe and fear. Witness the powerful performance of the Keris dance trance during the Usaba Daratan Ceremony held at Selumbung Village.
15 & 16 October 2016 - Usaba Guling at Gumang Hill
Throngs of people from several East Bali villages – Bebandem, Jasri, Ngis and Bugbug – ascend to the summit of Mount Gumang in a ceremonial procession that lasts through the night, accompanied by an offering of more than a hundred suckling pigs, a keris dance and Jempana War rituals in which men bearing palanquins containing effigies of deities stage a ‘battle’. The following morning, the procession descends the mountain to Bale Agung Temple in Bugbug village for another day of ceremonial ritual and dance.
14 November 2016 - Pasar Agung Temple Anniversary Ceremony
The magnificent Pura Pasar Agung temple lies off the beaten track, three quarters of the way up Mount Agung. This breathtaking temple complex is thought to be the holy meeting place of Bali’s most ancient deities, the ancestors of the Gods of Besakih, hence the name Pasar Agung (the supreme market). Probably the most dramatic pilgrimage site on the island, it overlooks the entire island, surrounded by a forest of towering ferns and pine trees, with panoramas that stretch as far as the volcanoes of Lombok. It’s also a starting point for hikes up Mount Agung.
For those who seek to experience a slice of authentic Bali, plan your escape to Alila Manggis and enjoy a time of sublime relaxation coupled with unforgettable cultural discovery!