Every 210 days we celebrate Galungan and Kuningan here in Bali. During this special time, you will see the streets of Bali beautifully decorated with bamboo poles (called Penjor), offerings everywhere, beautiful Balinese women dressed up to go to the temple in the most colorful kebaya’s and the smell of incense around the island even stronger than usual.
Another thing that is typically for this time of year is that you will see the barong going around the village. In every local village, the Balinese will go around with the barong at the dusk of day, to scare away bad spirits and to protect the village against anything evil.
The name of this event is called ‘Ngelawang’. “Ngelawang” tradition is inherited from generation to generation aims to neutralize the universe, rejecting any kind of diseases that interfere with human life, including “niskala” (abstract / not visible), expelling people who mean harm, interfere with the security of Bali. The Ngelawang tradition in the context of sacred magical as an offering to reject harms as the meaning of ngelawang during Galungan until Kuningan.
The name of Ngelawang came from the words ‘lawang’, which means ‘door’, so generally ngelawang means a performance that performed by moving to one place to other place or from one village to another.
Nowadays, Ngelawang is not only performed by adults in the village, it is also performed by kids with their own creativity in performing the barong dance accompanied by its gamelan (traditional Balinese music).
The performance in Ngelawang using the sacred barong which is performed by grown up people is held by taking the barong around the village and performing the barong dance when they passing a temple. Meanwhile, the one that is held by children is an entertainment and they will perform the dance when someone gives any offering and donation to them when walking around the village.
For children who live near a touristic area in Bali, there is more to it. They use the Ngelawang activity to go around the streets and to collect donations from tourists. Most tourist are very happy and pleased to see these kids, as it is a true Balinese experience to see local children dressed up in traditional clothes, bringing the barong and making Balinese music.
The Barong the kids take with them is not the official barong from the temple, as this one is sacred and only used for ceremonial processions in the village. The local kids make their own barong to bring with them to the streets of Ubud, Kuta or any other touristic area.
They usually go out every night in the days between Galungan and Kuningan. The money they collect here will go to the young community of the village, which they can use again for other events or cultural activities. And don’t be surprised, they collect quite a big amount of money every night!
So if you are in Bali around Galungan and Kuningan, make sure you see this spectacle. But actually you don’t have to look far. If you are sitting in a restaurant or café in Ubud or any other touristic area, you will surely witness this as they come around and might even come inside the restaurant to do the Barong dance and make music. Don’t forget to put a small donation in the box ;-).
Happy Galungan and Kuningan to all our Balinese friends and family!