Pagerwesi & Saraswati
Experience Authentic Bali During Sarasvati and Pagerwesi
Regardless of which part of the year you explore Bali, you’re bound to encounter beauty and fun. However, doing so during the Balinese holidays of Sarasvati and Pagerwesi adds a whole new level of splendid culture to your island experience.
What are Sarasvati and Pagerwesi?
According to the Balinese Pawukon Calendar, the holiday of Sarasvati occurs every 210 days. This celebration, also known as Knowledge Day, is based on the Hindu goddess of the same name; Sarasvati represents music, arts, wisdom and nature and is able to readily differentiate between good and evil. In her four arms, she holds objects which represent different things. Her zither showcases art while the scriptures show the path of human enlightenment by way of knowledge. To add to it, her rosary of 108 beads showcases the eternal and cyclical nature of spirituality.
To celebrate Sarasvati, Balinese people carry offerings to the holy books within their homes, offices, schools or temples. These offerings typically take place in the morning. During the afternoon, Balinese refrain from reading or writing because all of the books are basking in the blessings that were placed upon them earlier in the day. Then, in the evening, the people of Bali read books (typically spiritual ones) to embrace knowledge.
Pagerwesi occurs a few days after Sarasvati. This holiday, the name of which translates literally to iron fence, serves as a day for Balinese people to strengthen their minds and souls to fight against evil. If you think about it, an iron fence represents great strength, the likes of which worshippers hope to harvest in their own selves. In order to do so, they worship a god named Sanghyang Paramesti Guru, whose primary duty is to eliminate all evil beings of the world.
The celebration of Pagerwesi includes adorning streets with penjor, or tall bamboo poles decorates with flowers. These are the same artifacts which find their way into another very important Balinese holiday, Galungan. People make offerings, pray in their homes and head to the temple for praying. It’s a big holiday, and it’s particularly unique in the fact that it takes place during the middle of the night, so there’s no mistaking just what holiday is occurring during Pagerwesi.
Traveling in Bali During Sarasvati and Pagerwesi
If you wind up traveling Bali during the important holidays of Sarasvati and Pagerwesi, you’ll get to experience a colorful, rich and historically important side of the culture. Envision the streets lined with floral bamboo displays and the locals praying or meditating at temples in the middle of the night. Be sensitive in that some people may be busy worshipping. Otherwise, your Indonesian excursion will only be enhanced by the presence of Pagerwesi and Sarasvati.