Bali and the Balinese celebrate Saraswati, a day devoted to the Goddess of Knowledge, Art, and Literature – Dewi Saraswati. She is symbolised by a beautiful woman with four hands, riding on a white swan among water lilies to tell humanity that science is like a pretty lady. Her hands hold a palm leaf; a lontar – Balinese traditional book which is the source of science or knowledge.
The day is the first in a series of five important religious highlights. Saraswati falls on an Umanis Watugunung Saturday in the Balinese 210-day pawukon calendar, so it is celebrated twice in a Gregorian year. Pangredanan is the day before Saraswati and it is reserved for preparations – all the books and lontar are collected together, cleaned and dusted.
Then comes Saraswati, this year it is on 25th of June and to mark this day, books of knowledge, manuscripts, and the Vedas are blessed and special offerings are made together with aspirations for knowledge and wisdom. Balinese people bring offerings to their holy books in their houses, while students celebrate it at school, usually in the morning, and the office workers in their office. The philosophy of Saraswati day is that the most important thing for human life is – knowledge.
The day after Saraswati Day is Banyu Pinaruh day. “Banyu” means water and “Pinaruh” mean wisdom. In other words, we must have wisdom which always flows like water and which is useful for human kind. The people usually take a bath in the sea, lake or river. The philosophy of Banyu Pinaruh day is that the second most important thing is – good health.
Two days after Saraswati Day, on Soma (or Monday) is Soma Ribek day. “Soma” meaning Monday, and “Ribek” meaning full. This is the day when Balinese bring offerings to the rice box. They thank God for food and beverage in their lives and pray to Dewi Sri (Goddess of prosperity, manifestation of God) to give wealth. The philosophy of Soma Ribek day is that the third most important thing in life is – food and drink.
Three days after Saraswati Day, on Anggara (or Tuesday), is Sabuh Mas day. “Sabuh” means belt, and “Mas” means gold. Balinese bring offerings to the deposit box or the place where they keep their jewellery. They thank Mahadewa (manifestation of God) for cloth, money, gold. The philosophy of Sabuh Mas day is the fourth most important thing is – cloth and gold and money.
Four days after Saraswati Day, on Buda (or Wednesday) is Pagerwesi day. “Pager” meaning fence and “Wesi” meaning iron. On this day, Balinese pray to Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru (manifestation of God). All Balinese give offerings to temples in their homes and this is the second biggest holiday after Galungan day for the Balinese. The philosophy of this celebration is that they must keep knowledge, health, food, cloth and gold high in their lives to maintain the universe in balance. ■