Things to Do in Bali: Hari Raya Saraswati

June 23, 2012

We previously mentioned that no matter what time of year your Bali vacation takes place, you will likely be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of some sort of celebration. While April and October are generally the busiest times for Bali holidays, there are festivals and ceremonies all year round, and this past 16th of June marked one of our favorites: Hari Raya Saraswati.

Balinese Hindus see knowledge as a key aspect of fulfilling human potential, and Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, science, the arts, and literature in particular. Libraries and schools honor the goddess of the intellectual and creative realm as their patron goddess, and you may well see a sculpture of this four-armed beauty at their doors. On Saraswati Day, celebrated every 210 days, there are ceremonies and prayers not just in the temples, but also in schools and other institutions of learning.

Saraswati Day is a special day for students. Nobody is allowed to read or write, and children dress in colorful costumes instead of their school uniforms. Students bring offerings of fruit and cakes to the school temple, and pray for success in their studies during a special morning ceremony. Books, especially the sacred “lontar” (palm leaf) books), are blessed with offerings of fruit, flowers and holy water.

If you are lucky enough to be staying at our Bali villa on the next Saraswati Day, you will be rewarded by a colorful spectacle of celebration throughout the village.

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