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Indonesia in Focus

The Balinese Calendar

Username By Wombat | January 6th, 2006 | Comments 4 Comments »

When I first started going to Bali a couple of decades ago, I immersed myself in the culture as much as possible. I can still recall looking at a Balinese Calendar for the first time and was completely perplexed.

To explain the Balinese Calendar is very hard and I did search the net to find the best way to explain it to you. However, I remembered Bill Dalton’s explanation in his travel guide ‘Bali Handbook’ was the best I have read. Here is how Bill explains it:

‘The Balinese year has 210 days, 30 weeks (Wuku) of seven days each, or six months of 35 days each. Every week of the year has its own name, printed in red in the upper row to the left of ‘Wuku’. The dates run vertically downwards instead of horizontal as in the Gregorian calendar. Red ink always designates special holidays.

The weeks conform to our counting of the weeks, and Sunday begins the week. Truly an international calendar, the outer left-hand column shows the days of the week in Indonesian, Balinese, English, Japanese, and Chinese. Not only Bali-Hindu religious events but details of events of Indonesia’s other major religions are also indicated.

Inside the boxes are names for days which are based on a different counting system. For example, the top line of each square lists the Muslim month and number. Below the ingkel row are lists of Balinese festival days, coincidental dates, odalan, and special days connected with Galungan and Pagerwesi, with advice on as what to do and what not to do on certain days.

In the right-hand vertical column is a list of auspicious days for certain activities. By glancing at this list, a Balinese can determine the best days for a harvest, toothfiling, cremation, wedding, building a house, opening a restaurant etc.

A 35 year old photographer of the 78-year-old creator of the calendar, Ketut Banbang Gede Rawi is pictured in the lower right-hand corner. Bangbang has published this official Balinese calendar since 1950’

There is another calendar system called Pawukon and I will explain this in a follow-up article.

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4 Responses to “The Balinese Calendar”

Julie | January 6th, 2006 at 6:36 pm | comment link
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Whoa!. Too confusing. I think the calendar I grew up with will do just fine!. Just a Western girl at heart.

Barrie | January 6th, 2006 at 7:44 pm | comment link
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Hi Julie,

I’m the same. I always buy a Balinese calendar every year and I always look at it and wonder why!.

Carl Parkes | January 7th, 2006 at 3:34 am | comment link
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Bill’s book on Bali was probably the best travel guidebook ever written to the island, but sadly it has been cancelled by Moon Publications, so hang on to your last edition. His Indonesia Handbook is also O.P. Sad case, but Moon couldn’t sell enough copies to make it financially feasible, and Bill found it increasingly difficult to keep the travel information up to date.

He built a house in the hills west of Ubud, but now lives on the East Coast with his Javanese wife and new kid. Not sure his plans.

Barrie | January 7th, 2006 at 8:58 am | comment link
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Hi Carl,

Most definitely agree with you on that one. Looking at the other guidebooks on the market for Bali, Bill’s just kills them dead for quality and info.

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