Bali lovers are celebrating the return of the magical Nusa Penida Festival this October. This year will be the first time the cultural and community gathering will be held since before the pandemic.
Organizers are hopeful this year will be bigger and better than ever before, and tourists are encouraged to attend.
Bali is one of the most culturally abundant tourist destinations in the world. On the island traditional culture is not a relic of the past to be explored only in museums, but is an alive, thriving, and essential part of everyday life.
The Nusa Penida Festival is the largest event held on the island. The celebration kicks off on the 5th of October and runs until the 7th of October.
Now the hiatus is over, organizers from Klungkung Regency are excited to showcase the best of Bali’s cultural performers, storytelling, music, and sports.
Only a few details were revealed when the festival was announced and now we know a little more about what to expect.
On October 5th, the Nusa Penidia Festival will open with a ceremonial “pakelem” Balinese Hindu ritual at Batununggul Beach. The priests, priestesses, worshippers, and observing visitors will be accompanied to the beach by 500 women from Sampalan Village who will take part in the honorable, sacred dance of ‘Tari Pendet Pasepan.’
A ceremonial “pakelem” is an offering ceremony where the priests make a sacrificial offering to the sea. The pakelem ceremony is also referred to as larung laut in Java.
The ritual offering is intended to help maintain the balance of the natural world. Tradition dictates that sacrificial offerings in the ceremony must be a live animal, usually a chicken, duck, goat, or water buffalo.
For many tourists this may be a more surprising aspect of the Balinese Hindu culture; a faith that is known for promoting non-violence to all living beings.
But as leading Balinese Hindu Priest Ida Rsi Bhujangga Waisnawa Putra Sara Shri Satya Jyoti explains “implementation of [pakeklem], there are several people who ask whether this includes Himsa Karma. In Hinduism, especially Hinduism in Bali which adheres to the Indonesian Shiva Siddhanta concept, the concepts of Ahimsa and Himsa Karma have been regulated.”
Jyoti continues to explain that “if killing is only for personal gain and not for the welfare of the people, then it can be classified as Himsa Karma, but if it is for the benefit of the people together [in the form of the pakekem ritual], then the sacrifice is justified as long as the victim is first prayed for, or what is called Mapepada”
On the opening day, the pakelem will be followed by a Tari Pendet Pasepan performance by 500 local women. This is one of the biggest performances of its kind in Bali.
The dance involves making floral offerings to the temple or theater where everyone is gathered.
Guests can expect to hear incredible live Balinese gamelan orchestral music, hundreds of people dressed in all different kinds of traditional clothing, and plenty of cultural wonders to absorb.
Activities on the 6th of October, the second day of the festival, are a little more interactive for tourists.
Festival attendees will be invited to take part in a turtle hatching release, beach cleaning, coral reef planting, and much more.
The highlights of day two include a magical Kecak performance and a romantic ‘Djanger’ dance.
The Kecak dance is perhaps the most famous of the Balinese dances. The performance tells the story of the Ramayana, the triumph of good over evil, and features a fire dance to ward off the evil spirits.
There should be no worries for tourists who cannot make it to Nusa Penida next weekend. There are plenty of opportunities to see cultural shows all across Bali every night of the week.
On the closing day of the festival, spectators will be treated to traditional boat races that get seriously competitive.
There will be plenty of music and even more cultural gems to explore. Aside from some break-out events, the festival will be held at Sampalan Public Field in Nusa Penida which is a quick 5-minute drive from Buyuk Harbor fast boat drop-off.
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