The scent of Galungan, the Frangipani flower

The legend of Mayadenawa

While walking around the streets you will surely smell a wonderful scent, especially those days that ceremonies are happening daily everywhere on the Island. It’s Galungan! Not only today but It’s been happening for a few days already!
Galungan is a bit like our New Year’s Eve, It’s the occasion for Balinese to visit their family and got back to their village for a short vacation.
This ceremony is happening every 6 months of the Balinese traditional calendar, it’s the celebration of the good over the bad, the Dharma over the Adharma as we say in Balinese. Back in the old times, the king Mayadenawa forbid Balinese to worship Hinduism. The inhabitants, strong believer in their religion, were totally heartbroken but could not overcome the power of the king. Only Indra, the Hindu god of thunder, rain and lightning, was the one who could finally take over him after coming down from the heaven. The legend says that the king used his supernatural powers to transform himself into a statue and a stone to escape but Indra’s magic was stronger and the king was finally conquered. The place of his down fall is the so well-known Tirta Empul holy water temple. You surely heard of that sacred place and probably visited or will while in Bali. Tirta Empul is not too far from Ubud center and became very popular this last few years.
Galungan is the commemoration of the day when Hinduism became allowed again and worshipped more than ever before. Wisdom and peace were back on the Island as well as numerous celebrations and countless prayers. Inhabitants dressed up with their best outfits and women add pretty Frangipani flowers to their beautifully-made hair.

Sacred scent in the prettiest form

Sign of love and purity, gift to the love one and promise of forever adoration. A bride will decorate her hair with Frangipani flowers in a sign of fidelity towards her husband. This flower is commonly called Jepun here in Bali. Symbol of all ceremonies, especially weddings, always present in the daily offerings, this flower is seen and scented everywhere around the island of the gods. Different kinds, different colors but all so magnificent. The Jepun plays a major role in the ceremonies process and no celebrations can be done without it. It is used to serve the holy water after prayers and add a cute and pretty touch to all “cenangs”, square banana leaves offerings. The delicate scent transports everyone in a magical world of beauty and nicely perfume its surroundings. Watch out for the Jepun, you can’t miss it as it is soon the Kuningan ceremony.

Yellow your world with some gratitude

The defeat of the king Mayadenawa was so unbelievable that the fear felt by the people could not leave their heart and spirit. In order to reassure the inhabitants, a ceremony and a public announcement was held 10 days later the king defeat. During this ceremony, yellow rice was placed everywhere. Yellow… Kuning in Bahasa Bali. That’s how we call this commemoration Kuningan. Maybe you already tasted yellow rice while eating at a local ”warung”. It is a delicious rice cooked with turmeric, ginger and lemongrass. Very tasty when done properly. Anyway, this day is believed by Hinduist to be the moment that ancestors choose to return to heaven after visiting the earth during Galungan celebrations. It’s somehow a farewell and special offerings made of this yellow rice are prepared for the occasion. Yellow is the color of gratitude. We are grateful for the joy we have in life, for being healthy, for the prosperity in our families. The Balinese love to thank their gods and spirits for looking after them and show their appreciation with infinite offerings and ceremonies.

Sweet scent from blooming flowers

While travelling around Bali’s villages you probably noticed flowers drying under the bright sun in front of houses. The Frangipani flowers are a money maker for villagers. Granny’s are usually seen collecting them in the countryside, carefully picking up one flower at a time once they hit the ground after falling from their tree. Not only use as a decoration, those flowers are also the main ingredient in the production of encens. Encens factories buy 1 kg of dry flowers for 20 000 IDR, you won’t get rich by doing this but it buys diner. Encens accompany the daily offerings, one canang, one encens. We burn them on the canangs once those are placed where they belong. The Frangipani symbolizes the ground, the encens symbolizes the fire and the holy water the water. The three elements complete the prayers and guarantee protection from the three main gods of Hinduism, Brahma, god of fire, Vishnu, god of water and Shiva, god of the ground.
The Frangipani is linked to all aspects of the Balinese life, the spiritual, the aesthetic, the financial, the emotional. They are universally loved for their beauty and their sensational smell. Nice natural perfume made of frangipani are available in many shops. Don’t forget to get one before you leave as a precious memory of your time on the Island of the Gods.

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