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Galungan Festival photography highlights; Find out why photographing this event should be on your Bucket List

We’re excited to be launching a photo tour soon with a new destination: Bali. You’ll be able to join professional photographers Andy Scaysbrook and Andrew Bell on an exploration of this stunning place, and you’ll sharpen your photography skills along the way. Undoubtably one of the highlights of the trip will be the Galungan festival, an annual festival that’s inspiring to witness, and a treat for photographers.

– Text by Wantong Liu, images by Andy Scaysbrook

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Galungan is one of the most fascinating festivals in Bali. Apart from celebrating the victory of dharma over adharma (good over evil), Galungan also marks the visit of the ancestral spirits. Living people are responsible for being hospitable when their past ancestors visit their homeland, until 10 days later, on Kuningan day, they leave earth (again). Like other Balinese traditional festivals, the dates of Galungan and Kuningan are calculated according to the 210-day Balinese Calendar. This year, the 10-day visit takes place between July 24th and August 3rd.

The Origin of Galungan Festival

Unlike the rest of the Muslim-majority Indonesia, the mainstream religion of the population in Bali is Balinese Hinduism, which combines local beliefs with Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. As a consequence, Galungan originates from Diwali, which also celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma by Hindus in other parts of the world.

galungan celebration

Photography Highlights during the Festivals

Art and ritual are significant parts of Balinese Hinduism. Being in Bali during the festival season, you will not miss the beautiful ceremonies happening all around. All you need to do is get your camera ready, and embrace yourself into the festival vibe.

galungan celebrationPenjor. Those bamboo poles sticking up to the sky with offerings suspended at the end are a must-shoot during Galungan. In fact, you cannot really miss it, since there will be a Penjor erected in front of almost every building. The height of the Penjors is a symbol of Mount Agung, the holy mountain of Bali that provides Balinese with protection and prosperity. The main element of the Penjor, bamboo, seen everywhere during celebrations, serves as a symbol of the god of creation, Brahma. However, Penjors are decorated in all fashions. Just remember to be grateful for “the bounty of earth” when you photograph the beautiful Penjors!

Temple praying. In Galungan day, Balinese will head to the temple and pray with their families. The offerings prepared beforehand will be shared after the prayers. Local temples will be full of people and full of decorations. You as a travel photographer will be honored to capture this spiritual moment of connection between Balinese and their ancestors.

galungan celebrationgalungan celebrationBarong dance. During Galungan festival, you may come across Barong dance along the streets. Barong dance depicts the fight between Barong (good) and Rangda (evil). You are more than welcomed to record the this artistic expression with your camera, or even jump in and dance along!

galungan celebration

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