Kuningan Comes to a Close

Kuningan Comes to a Close

This past Saturday, the Balinese people celebrated Kuningan, marking the close of the big holiday season here in Bali. As we mentioned before, every 210 days, the Balinese people welcome their spiritual ancestors back to Earth and into their homes.

Offerings for the Gods and ancestors.

Offerings for the Gods and ancestors.

On the morning of Kuningan, they celebrate their ancestors’ return back to the spiritual world. It is the responsibility of the living family members to make sure these ancestors have what they need to make the long journey. This means making offerings of their most important provisions to the Gods—rice and fruit.

The word Kuningan itself is derived from the Indonesian word kuning, meaning yellow. On Kuningan, the streets are littered with offerings coated in yellow rice. Balinese people believe the yellow rice is a symbol of human’s gratitude and humility for all the gifts the Gods have bestowed upon them—mainly life, joy, wealth, and health.

Yellow rice can be found  everywhere  on Kuningan.

Yellow rice can be found everywhere on Kuningan.

The yellow theme doesn’t stop there though. On Kuningan, penjors are redecorated with yellow cloth to symbolize prosperity. Men and women alike walk through the streets, their arms laden with offerings, in golden yellow sarongs. For a day, it seems as though everything is yellow.

In addition to offerings of rice, it’s also very common to see tamiangs hanging outside of each family compound, often near the penjor. A tamiang is usually constructed from dried coconut leaves in a circular formation, and is meant to serve as a shield. They protect and defend the families that hang them, and also serve as a reminder to the Balinese people of karma—what goes around comes around.

A tamiang hangs at the base of a penjor enrobed in yellow fabric.

A tamiang hangs at the base of a penjor enrobed in yellow fabric.

The day after Kuningan–Manis Kuningan—is one of the most joyful days on the island. After all the hard work spent preparing offerings and food throughout the holiday season, Manis Kuningan is a day for families to relax and spend time with one another. It is a time for sightseeing, short trips, visiting family that may live a bit further away, and of course, feasting. Families spend lots of time sharing food particularly prepared for that day. The most popular item is tape—a fermented sticky rice with a sweet flavor.

With all the pageantry that accompanies this time of year, we are sad to see this holiday season come to a close. But the great thing about living in Bali is there is always another one right around the corner…