The Balinese Calendar

When I first started going to Bali 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.