One doesn’t have to be on the island for very long to appreciate that Balinese life seems to be an endless parades of rites and ceremonies. The combination of Hindu religious rituals and the local “Adat Istiadat” of the Balinese result in a cycle of events which paces the sun and the moon through the seasons. Ceremonies also mark the procession of human life from the womb to the grave.
The various ceremonies center on different parts of Balinese life. Ceremonies for the gods are much different than the ceremonies for man. For example, Odalan is a ceremony for the Gods and the anniversary of a temple; this is the time when God is invited to bless the daily prayers in that temple.
Two of the most visible ceremonies are concerned with man. “Metatah” or the tooth-filing ceremony, is for Balinese 16-18 years of age. This ceremony is as a sign of maturity and indicates that the kids have reached the age where they need more guidance, love, and care from their parents. Perhaps the best known ceremony is “Ngaben,” the cremation ceremony to purify the soul of the death. Many visitors to Bali find themselves enthralled by the cremation rituals, which can go on for days with much pomp and celebration.
Another highly visible ceremony is Galungan, which occurs every 210 days (it’s timed to the Balinese calendar). This Balinese festival celebrates a day of victory against an the notorious Mayadenawa, an evil king that ruled in Bali centuries ago. Kuningan day, 10 days after Galungan, is the day to commemorate the spirits of the heroes who were killed during the battle against Mayadenawa.