Balinese Calendar

Inherit From Old Hindu and Javanese Calendar System

Even though Indonesia uses the Gregorian Calendar like almost everybody else in the world, the Balinese also use their “native” calendars to define their holidays, rituals and ceremonies. When the Balinese want to set a date for any ceremonies such as a wedding, tooth filing, cremation, or even just the blessing of a house after construction, consulting a priest to find a “good day” – “Hari Baik” is a must. Otherwise Balinese fear that they will face bad luck.

The Balinese ‘native‘ calendar uses two systems that can be complex and confusing even to the locals:

Saka calendar

Saka Calendar is derived from the ancient Hindu calendar, and Bali ancestors improved and customized it based on the actual conditions of the island. Balinese life is inseparable from the ceremonies routine that includes offerings as one of the main elements of the ritual. Therefore Saka calendar was also designed to maintain the availability of crops for the ceremonies.

The calculation of Saka is pretty complicated to be understood, as it is based on a combination of analysis between solar system, lunar system and other local elements. This calendar has 12 months with 354 or 355 days per year. Full moon falls in the middle of every month as regular sacred day where Balinese celebrates Purnama. Most of the temples will be packed with worshipers, and some roads in Bali might be closed due to the Purnama ceremonies. Balinese will wear their traditional dress and carry their offerings to their temple. Sacred dances, puppet show and other rituals usually performs in prominent temples during Purnama.

Pawukon

Pawukon calendar is another calendric system that has similarly functioned as astrology calendar in the western world. This calendar has 210 days in a year, which divided into 30 weeks, with seven days in every week. It is believed that people who were born in a specific week will have some identical physical condition, character and fate. But that is not the only functions of this calendar, Pawukon also used to predict important religious event in Bali like Galungan, Saraswati and Kuningan.

This calendar is believed to be rooted in the ancient rice-growing cycle. But, some also believe that the Javanese calendar influences the calendar.

The modern-day paper calendar of Balinese

Fortunately, modern paper calendar is widely available in the island, consisting printed dates of Gregorian, Pawukon and Saka. The calendar provides complete information from the temples anniversary (Odalan) or the full moon occurrence (Purnama) based on the Saka system. In this calendar, tourists can also find out which festivals they can attend during the month.

Balinese calendar is the fundamental element that defines the daily life of the people. For instance, each week, there are lists of forbidden activities such as cutting bamboo or getting married. Plus, the propitious days for specific activities such as getting married or planting or harvesting crops. For the commoners, it gets harder to find a date with a high degree of auspiciousness. Thus, consulting a priest is something they do because the priests are believed to have a higher spiritual state of mind. Another unique feature of the calendar is the information given on each day. It has attributes of Balinese astrology so people would know under which sign a person is born.

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