Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: Galungan (Balinese Hindu Holiday) by Wayan Juniartha.

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Galungan, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 12th December 2010.
Translated by Putu Semiada.

Galungan (Balinese Hindu Holiday)

The palm toddy stall has been quiet these days due to the Balinese Hindu Holidays (Galungan and Kuningan). It is not because they have given up drinking nor become members of FPI (Forum Pengeng Inguh = Association of the Depressed and the Crazy)*.

“It is quiet because most of them are drinking beer and coca cola. Having received their holiday allowance (THR), they think that drinking tuak is less prestigious,” says I Made Butha Dungulan (I Made Evil Spirit During Galungan).

Only I Made and I Ketut Labuh Gentuh (I Ketut Sacrifice Ritual) are at the palm toddy warung. Both of them did not receive THR: they are unemployed so our friends do not get THR.

“It is quiet as they are at the other place,” says I Ketut.

What he means by ‘other place’ is the cock-fighting, Chinese card and domino card gambling arenas.

“The strange thing is that Balinese men try to wake up very early in the morning. They try to finish praying at family shrines and temples as fast as they can. Then they will play Chinese cards and go to cockfighting until late.”

Another ‘good thing’ about our holiday: the gods and our ancestors come down from heaven to visit their ‘children’ on the beautiful island. But, the strange thing is that only women are busy in preparing offerings; how they suffer pain in their waist from carrying offerings to many different temples. How they suffer pain in their knees from climbing flights at stairs of the temples and how their colored nails get spoiled from making offerings, and how their make up looks messy having carried offerings on their heads to many different temples.

It is great to see what men do but they don’t have much to do. They are just busy in the morning preparing food which they will eat themselves. Next, they make penjor (bamboo pole with decoration).That’s what they usually do. But they always claim that they have done a lot of things; they say that they are tired, complaining of having pain in their waist, and then they go to bed. After that they would go play Chinese cards.

It is great to see too, how there is more and more cockfighting and gambling, more Chinese card gambling and magic ball (bola adil) gambling when the gods come down to earth. And more and more beers are requested.

“Only Balinese can combine gambling and ritual; after praying they gamble, only Balinese men can celebrate Galungan by drinking, playing Chinese cards, and fighting with their brothers,” says I Made laughingly.

Only Balinese can celebrate the victory of dharma (good) against adharma (evil spirit).

“Other religions do not celebrate their holiday like we do. Usually after praying they listen to preaching for hours telling them what they should do and what they shouldn’t do, which makes them bored. Next, they have to give donations to unprivileged people — such a monotonous celebration,” adds I Ketut.

“I think Balinese Hindu is the most cool and colorful religion,” says I Made while belching after enjoy sipping palm toddy.

Other religions have too many rules but Balinese Hindu is very flexible. You can go to cockfighting (tajen), as long as you still have some money to return home; you can drink as long as you are not totally drunk.

“One doesn’t need to give donations to unprivileged people either. On the other hand, if one is too poor to pay fees (iuran) for the village (banjar), he will be ‘isolated’ (kasepekang) by the villagers and his belongings will be taken. For ‘most’ Balinese Hindus, they prefer spending money for love affair than giving donation to unprivileged people. According to them, it is all right for one to have love affair as long as it doesn’t ruin his own family,” says I Ketut laughingly.

“Ruining your own family due to your love affair is not a good thing indeed, let alone separating from your wife. If you lose your wife, who will take care of the offerings during Galungan holidays. You cannot count on the café girls as they just want your money; they can not make offerings (nanding canang).”

“Our religion is the best, I think: I will be a Hindu forever,” says I Made.

Happy Galungan! Let us maintain dharma and Balinese culture by ‘doing cockfighting’, drinking, fighting your brothers, and ‘isolating’ our unprivileged brothers.


*Also the Radical Islamist Group.