Isle celebrates Kuningan and victory of virtue
Streets are expected to be empty and offices closed on Saturday as millions of Balinese Hindus flock to the temples to pray and celebrate Kuningan.
The festival marks the end of ceremonies to celebrate the victory of dharma (virtue) over adharma (vice) that began with the observation of Galungan on Aug. 29.
The religious festivals fall every 210 days according to the Balinese calender.
Balinese Hindus will go to family temples and major temples starting at sunrise. Dressed in traditional clothing, they will bring offerings, including canang, the simplest of Balinese Hindu offerings, made of fresh flowers and leaves placed on a square of coconut leaves; or gebogan, a towering arrangement of fruits and traditional cakes.
One special offering for Kuningan is yellow rice with side dishes such as siap sisit (shredded stir-fried chicken with shallots and chili), slices of boiled egg and cucumber, kemangi leaves and fresh long beans.
This offering will do double duty as an offering to the gods and as a family feast. The name of the festival is thought to take its name from the color of the rice.
“The color yellow [kuning] is a symbol of prosperity, as well as the rice itself. By serving yellow rice on Kuningan, it symbolizes our gratitude to the Gods for the prosperity they have bestowed on us,” Hindu scholar I Ketut Wiana told Bali Daily on Friday.
Kuningan is also associated with tamiang and endong, two kinds of intricately carved young coconut leaves that are hung on shrines across the island. The shield-shaped tamiang symbolizes security and protection, while the endong symbolizes prosperity.
“The victory of dharma lends us a sense of security and prosperity. If we don’t feel that way then there is a possibility that we haven’t actually won the battle,” he added.
On Kuningan, Balinese Hindus will try to finish presenting offerings and prayers before noon, when the gods will leave earth for the heavens, as told by the Sundarigama manuscript.
“It actually means that human beings usually have better concentration in the morning. Once the prayers are conducted at noon, people usually lose concentration,” Wiana said.
One of the busiest temples during Kuningan is Sakenan in Serangan island, 20 kilometers south of Denpasar.
Built in the 12th century by Mpu Kuturan, one of the most respected religious figures in Bali, Sakenan celebrates its anniversary on Kuningan. Thousands of Balinese Hindus will flock to Sakenan early in the morning and afternoon, and officials expect severe backups on the narrow road that connects the temple with Jl. Bypass I Gusti Ngurah Rai.
Kuningan also boasts two unique rituals: Siyat Jempana and Makotek.
The first is carried out by the people of Timbrah, a small hamlet in Paksebali village in Klungkung.
The ritual involves six wooden palanquins, inside which sacred effigies of the deities are placed.
In the peak of the ritual, the bearers, who are said to be in a trance, run with their palanquins and try to ram each other.
The Makotek ritual, performed by hundreds of youths in Munggu village in Badung, reenacts a battle between two divisions of lance-bearing soldiers.
These days, however, the sharp-tipped lances are replaced by long wooden poles. The youths march and fight each other in a noisy ritual aimed at warding off evil spirits.