Bamboo and bananas for Galungan

The island of Bali became increasingly busy during the buildup to the major rituals of Galungan and Kuningan that began on Oct. 23.

Both traditional and modern supermarkets were swarmed by people stockpiling ingredients necessary to perform the rituals.

The Galungan celebration this time is the second one this year after the previous one held in March.

This is due to the Balinese Saka Calendar, which runs for 210 days each year, so it is common to see a Galungan celebration twice a year.

And 'tis the season to go bananas in the market – literally, they bought a lot of bananas.

Bananas and bamboo are two important ingredients in Galungan and Kuningan.

The Balinese use the banana in their offerings, such as for the gebogan – the towering fruit stack offering and banten –the fruit-based offering.

As for bamboo, it is the main component of the penjor, which is a decorated pole that the Balinese erect in front of their homes during the Galungan and Kuningan celebrations.

The bamboo is used as a pole, which is later accessorized with various things like plants, fruit and handcrafts.

Due to the importance of those two elements of the rituals, bananas and bamboo are in high demand.

You can easily find them in the markets, but at higher prices than in other days.

"During normal days we sell them for Rp 10,000 (US$0.95) [per kilogram], but now we are selling them at Rp 12,000," said Gofur who sells bananas at Ketapian Market in Denpasar, explaining the price rise for Galungan.

Gofur’s stall in the market sells a rich variety of bananas, including the large variety locally known as the pisang raja -meaning "the king of bananas" or "bananas fit for a king", and the sweet but smaller variety of pisang susu, or "milk bananas.

Gofur said the suppliers from Java were the ones responsible for the price increase, since, according to him, they sold them at a higher price in the first place.

But, the price-hike didn’t really affect the sales much.

Gofur said he was still making good profits, "my sales are triple the usual days."

Vendors selling penjor, on the other hand, do not benefit from price hikes, because they can only sell them in the weeks before Galungan.

One penjor seller, Ketut Rena, crafts the bamboo into other ritual accessories outside of Galungan.

One day before the Galungan celebration commenced, Ketut had already sold most of his bamboo.

"I sold 800 poles – each worth Rp 20,000 to Rp 25,000 for the bamboo only," he said.

People tend to buy the plain bamboo and then decorate it themselves. A fully decorated bamboo can cost much more in the market - around Rp 175,000.

During the celebration of Galungan, these decorative elements add festivity to the streets of Bali.

Read also:

A photo story: Galungan the face of religious Bali

A month of art performances in Bali

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