"Galungan is the most important feast for Balinese Hindus. The festival is a celebration to honor the creator of the universe (Ida Sang Hyang Widi) and the spirits of the honored ancestors. It symbolizes the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma) and encourages the Balinese to show their gratitude with offerings, prayer, and dance."
Offerings to the Ancestors
"Galungan occurs twice a year in the 210-day cycle of the Balinese calendar (explained in this article about Bali's culture) and marks the time of the year when the spirits of the ancestors are believed to visit the earth. Balinese Hindus perform rituals that are meant to welcome and entertain these returning spirits.
The house compounds that make up the nucleus of Balinese society come alive with devotions offered by the families living within. Families offer bountiful sacrifices of food and flowers to the ancestral spirits, expressing gratitude and hopes for protection. These sacrifices are also offered at local temples, which are packed with devotees.
The whole island sprouts tall bamboo poles, or penjor, which are usually decorated with fruit, coconut leaves, and flowers and set up on the right of every residence entrance. At each gate, you'll also find small bamboo altars set up especially for the holiday, each one bearing woven palm-leaf offerings for the spirits."
The preparations for Galungan begin several days before the actual feast day
Three days before Galungan, families begin their preparations with "Penyekeban." Penyekeban literally means "the day to cover up," as this is the day when green bananas are covered up in huge clay pots to speed their ripening.
Two days beforehand marks a time of introspection for Balinese and, more prosaically, a time to make the Balinese cakes known as jaja. These colored cakes made of fried rice dough are used in offerings and are also eaten especially on Galungan. This time of year finds a glut of jaja in every village market.
The day before is slaughter day. On this day, Balinese slaughter the sacrificial animals that will go into the temple or altar offerings. Galungan is marked by a sudden surplus of traditional Balinese food, like lawar (a spicy pork and coconut sauce dish) and satay.
Balinese devotees pray at the temples and make their offerings to the spirits. Women are seen carrying the offerings on their heads, while men bring palm fronds.
The tenth day after Galungan Day marks the end of Galungan and is believed to be the day when the spirits ascend back to heaven. On this day, Balinese make special offerings of yellow rice.