• Ogoh Ogoh

  • Preparing a ceremony, Sanur

  • Balinese procession in Amed

  • Walking to the temple

Life determined by the Balinese Calendars

 

There are two traditional Balinese calenders that regulate the social and religious life on the island. Not only are the correct days for specific annual festivals determined by these calendars, but they also indicate auspicious days in which important ceremonies can take place or other normal daily affairs such as placing of specific offerings and activities concerning cattle, fish, trees, bamboo etc.

First of all you have the Hindu Saka which is mainly used by the mountain people in Bali, the Bali Aga. In this calendar there are also 12 months in one year of which the months are based on the full moon (purnama) and the 'dark' or new moons (tilem).


bali aga tenganan east bali
The Bali Aga also use palm leaf manuscripts and the Saka Calendar

 

The Saka calender has slightly shorter months then the Gregorian calender as each month can consists 29 or 30 days counted from the new moon. A year has 354, 355 or 356 days. This calendar is important for determining the dates for festivals and ceremonies of the Bali Aga community, agricultural activities and Nyepi, the most important yearly festivity when there's total silence on the island.

Nyepi day is the only national festival that is determined by the Saka calendar and it falls on the first day (dark moon) of the ninth month. This special holiday also marks the start of a new Balinese Saka year.

The other Balinese Calendar is the complex Pawukon (also known as Wuku or uku) which is 210 day calendar. The correct use of this Balinese calendar is so complex that it can be considered a science which is practiced by specialists. Brahmanic priests and witch doctors are the ones ordinary Balinese turn to in order to know which dates are good and which aren't.

 

wuku calandar bali
Pictures in the Pawukon Calendar that indicate lucky and unlucky days

 

To determine auspicious days the specialist will consult the Pawukon calendar together with secret symbols carved on wood and manuscripts drawn on palm leaf (warig). The Pawukon calendar consists of squares in which a drawing is painted. The contents of each square indicates if the day can be considered a lucky or unlucky day.

Dates of biannual Piodalan/Odalan temple anniversaries, Galungan, Kuningan are determined by this calender but also other festivities such as weddings, cremations, building houses are only held when the right combination of names, pictures and dates on the 210 day Pawukon Calendar are determined. This is done by the specialist for a small fee ;-)


balinese wuku calandar
Balinese Pawukon Calendar; which is behind glass hence the bad picture quality

Anyway to give you an impression of this complex calendar here are the bare basics. The Pawukon calendar is based on 210 day lunar cycles. These cycles are not divided into months but into weeks which are initially ten days long, followed by nine days, eight days etc. So at the end the final week consists only of one day. The calendar itself is divided in rows indicating the 210 days and columns which show the week days.

And then we have the naming of the days and weeks. Each week has a different name and on top of that each day of each week has a another name as well. This means that in the Pawukon Calendar each day always has a different name.

Of all the ten simultaneous weeks in the Pawukon Calendar, the most important week is the week that consists of seven days. Like our calendar, the names of these days are also based on the planets. In total there are 37 'seven-day-weeks' in a Pawukon calendar, all with a different name of course.


Home > Bali Culture > Balinese Calendar

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