Importance of moon in Bali
Here in Bali, there is plenty of ceremonies and parties linked to old rites and beliefs. We will talk about the Moon, divine star mentioned in all religions and credence over the world.
So, what’s the importance of the Moon in Balinese culture?
Religion in Bali
In Indonesia, the main religion is Islam, except here on Island of the Gods local Hinduism is the religion for 93% of the population. Here Hinduism is very different from the one from India, linked to Balinese culture and credence which rose unique events and ceremonies on earth. For the example, once a year, there is Nyepi; this day is dedicated to make flee demons of the island by making them think the island has been deserted. From sunrise to next day, everybody must be quiet, confined in the house, and praying to gods. Nyepi is always preceded by Ogho Ogho parade. These (papier-Mache made) monsters are supposed to scare all demons, parading through all roads of the island.
So, back to our subject, what’s the place of the Moon in these traditions?
Moon in Balinese Culture
As in many traditions and beliefs, the moon and his cycle have an important role and are gratified by ceremonies and gifts. Saka Calendar (religious local calendar) is a moon calendar on a 29 days model. Following this calendar, usages were born to venerate linked deities.
‘’Purnama’’ perfect light of Chandra
During each full moon, the Balinese celebrate the '' Purnama '' (literally full moon), and thus celebrate the perfect moon. In local beliefs, the full moon means that the Chandra deity blesses the island and its inhabitants with its light. To thank her, the locals wear their traditional clothes, ask her for prayers and offerings from their homes or temples. If another religious event takes place on a full moon day, the Balinese believe it will be 100 times more powerful thanks to the full moon, and thus redouble in prayers, chants and offerings to the gods.
‘’Tilem’’ Surya against darkness
Unlike the full moon, during the new moon, the latter gives no light. To fight this darkness, the locals address their prayers to Surya, goddess of sun, to thank her for blessing them with her light every day. These two ceremonies following the lunar cycle represent for certain premises, the inner struggles of humans, between light and shadow, good and bad, and so on.
Chandra and Kala Rau Legend
In Balinese folklore, this legend explains the appearance of eclipses of the moon. Kala Rau, a demon dressed up as a god to drink from the fountain of eternal life. Vishnu, the great goddess, realized the deception and cut off Kala Rau's head. But since he had already drunk the water from the fountain, his severed head did not die with his body. Being madly in love with Chandra, he decided to chase after her until he caught and eat her. From time to time he manages to catch it but not having a strong enough body to contain it, the moon always succeeds in escaping. It’s when he catches it that the moon appears hidden by the jaw of the demon.