Holy April in Bali

By Catur, 2024.04.16

Women are celebrating Holy April in Bali

For many, culture is not the primary pull to Bali; with so much to offer in terms of natural beauty, it’s no surprise that it’s often overlooked. However, those who visit the island in April are likely to have a culturally enriching experience that far exceeds the initial expectations they had for their trip.

Bali: More Than Meets the Eye

As an island, nature in Bali is often the main appeal, and this is why it is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. Not only does Bali attract international tourists, but it also remains popular as a holiday destination among locals.

Most people who have been to Bali and are charmed by its wonders agree that aside from its incredible natural beauty, the other selling point of Bali is its culture. As the only Hindu-majority island in Indonesia, a country with the biggest Muslim population on Earth, the island offers something different. This is why Bali has been at the forefront of Indonesian tourism for decades.

Hinduism in Bali – Two Separate Calendars

Hinduism in Bali differs from Hinduism in India, even though they share a similar concept. Balinese people use two different calendars. One is the Pawukon Calendar, which has 210 days, similar to the one in Java, and the other one is a lunisolar calendar called the Saka Calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar. The Saka Calendar has 12 months, called sasih in the Balinese language, with 30 days each, and Nyepi (Silent Day) marks the beginning of the year.

Among those months, the holiest month is kadasa, the tenth month. This is said to be the most sacred month of the Saka year because Balinese people are believed to go through the darkness within themselves during the previous month (called sasih kasanga or the ninth month) and battle against lust, impurities, and bad behaviour.

A woman and her daughter are going to a celebration of Nyepi

Restrictions During the Day of Silence 

Nyepi is a day for self-reflection, and four things are prohibited during the Day of Silence: lighting of fires, work, entertainment/pleasure, travel, and talking/eating.

On this day, everything in Bali stops, as it does in the neighbouring islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. In Nusa Penida, the electricity gets cut off.

Nyepi marks the beginning of the Saka year and sasih kadasa, or the tenth month. Balinese people believe that the tenth month brings clarity, where everything is clear. The harvest yields plenty, and the weather is good; this is the reward for getting through the ninth month.

The full moon in sasih kadasa is special and said to be the centre of other full moons in one year. It is celebrated in some of the main temples of Bali, such as the Pura Agung Jaganatha in Denpasar, Pura Batur in Bangli, and the mother temple in Pura Besakih.

Place to stay on the ocean shore in Bali

Preparing for Ida Bathara

The series of events, including the ceremonial preparation for Ida Bathara Turun Kabeh at Besakih, starts in February.

As Pura Besakih is one of Bali’s most popular tourist destinations, the local government set rules to ensure the ceremony runs smoothly:

The local officials and traditional police will patrol around the site and ensure there is no traffic congestion on the roads leading to Pura Besakih. They even provide shuttle buses for the thousands of people who wish to pray here from different parts of Bali, which are also scheduled according to their towns and regions to avoid overcrowding.

Breaking the Rules 

Even so, the stories about travellers who didn’t comply with this rule still make the headlines in online news outlets. A video of a Russian family circulated on social media when they entered the area of Pura Besakih without proper attire. For information, visitors must wear appropriate clothing every time visiting a holy place like a temple in Bali to respect it as a praying site. This means

The traditional police managed to stop them, but they couldn’t show an entrance ticket. They had allegedly entered the area without proper tickets and went through an alternative entrance. The parties got into an argument, and the family was finally escorted out of the premises. This incident adds to the long list of unruly and uninformed visitors and is one of the dos and don’ts in Bali.

Getting Married in Bali

The tenth month is also the best month to get married. So, do not be surprised when foreign visitors see many coconut leaf ornaments and decorations on the street. Sasih kadasa is also believed to be the best month to do piodalan, or the anniversary of the birth of a temple, be it in a house, an office, or even a village.

Woman is ready for marriage ceremony in Balinese traditions

Catur

The author of the project On Bali

Hi everyone! My name is Catur, and I was born and raised in Central Java. I moved to Bali in 2011 but left the island in 2016 before returning in 2018. Bali feels more than a home to me, and maybe that’s why my name feels like a premonition. Catur means four, both in the Balinese and Javanese languages. It is spoken like ‘c’ in chess, which is also the meaning of my name in Indonesian.

Date of Last Update: May 22, 2024

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