Balinese saka calendar

The Balinese saka calendar is one of two calendars used on the Indonesian island of Bali. Unlike the 210-day pawukon calendar, it is based on the phases of the Moon, and is approximately the same length as the Gregorian year.


Information about the Saka calendar on a Balinese wall calendar

Based on a lunar calendar, the saka year comprises twelve months, or sasih, of 30 days each. However, because the lunar cycle is slightly shorter than 30 days, and the lunar year has a length of 354 or 355 days, the calendar is adjusted to prevent it losing synchronization with the lunar or solar cycles. The months are adjusted by allocating two lunar days to one solar day every 9 weeks. This day is called ngunalatri, Sanskrit for "minus one night". To stop the Saka from lagging behind the Gregorian calendar – as happens with the Islamic calendar, an extra month, known as an intercalary month, is added after the 11th month (when it is known as Mala Jiyestha), or after the 12th month (Mala Sadha). The length of these months is calculated according to the normal 63-day cycle. An intercalary month is added whenever necessary to prevent the final day of the 7th month, known as Tilem Kapitu, from falling in the Gregorian month of December.

The names the twelve months are taken from a mixture of Old Balinese and Sanskrit words for 1 to 12, and are as follows:[1][2]

  1. Kasa
  2. Karo
  3. Katiga
  4. Kapat
  5. Kalima
  6. Kanem
  7. Kapitu
  8. Kawalu
  9. Kasanga
  10. Kadasa
  11. Jyestha
  12. Sadha

Each month begins the day after a new moon and has 15 days of waxing moon until the full moon (Purnama), then 15 days of waning, ending on the new moon (Tilem). Both sets of days are numbered 1 to 15. The first day of the year is usually the day after the first new moon in March.[3] Note, however, that Nyepi falls on the first day of Kadasa, and that the years of the Saka era are counted from that date.


The calendar is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar, and is calculated from the beginning of the Saka Era in India. It is used alongside the 210-day Balinese pawukon calendar, and Balinese festivals can be calculated according to either year. The Indian saka calendar was used for royal decrees as early as the ninth century CE.[4] The same calendar was used in Java until Sultan Agung replaced it with the Javanese calendar in 1633.[5]

Notable days

The Balinese Hindu festival of Nyepi, the day of silence, marks the start of the Saka year. Tilem Kepitu, the last day of the 7th month, is known as Siva Ratri, and is a night dedicated to the god Shiva. Devotees stay up all night and meditate. There are another 24 ceremonial days in the Saka year, usually celebrated at Purnama.[2]


  1. ^ Hobart et al, p82
  2. ^ a b Esimeman (1989) pp186-190
  3. ^ Esimeman (1989) pp 159,186
  4. ^ Haer et al, pp 24, 228
  5. ^ Ricklefs (1981), p.43


  • Eiseman, Fred B. Jr, Bali: Sekalia and Niskala Volume I: Essays on Religion, Ritual and Art pp 182–185, Periplus Editions, 1989 ISBN 0-945971-03-6
  • Haer, Debbie Guthrie; Morillot, Juliette & Toh, Irene (Eds) (1995) Bali, a Traveller's Companion, Editions Didier Millet. ISBN 981 3018 496
  • Hobart, Angela; Ramseyer, Urs & Leeman, Albert (1996) The Peoples of Bali, Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0 631 17687 X
  • Ricklefs, M.C; A History of Modern Indonesia, MacMillan, ISBN 978-0-333-24380-0
Bali Kite Festival

The Bali Kite Festival is an annual international kite festival held in July in Padang Galak area, Sanur Beach, Bali. Traditional giant kites (4 metres in width and almost 10 metres in length) are made and flown competitively by teams from the villages (banjar) of Denpasar. The event is a seasonal religious festival intended to send a thanking message to the Hindu gods to create abundant crops and harvests.The teams consist of about 70 to 80 people, each team with its own Gamelon band, flag bearers and flyers.

Bebean (fish-shaped), Janggan (bird-shaped) and Pecukan (leaf-shaped) are three traditional kites flown during this kite festival. The kites are flown by teams of 10 or more adult kitefliers. The Bebean is the largest kite, and looks like a broad-mouthed, split-tailed fish. The Janggan form has a broad flowing cloth tail that can reach more than 100 metres in length.

The Pecukan requires the most skill to fly, as its unstable form often tumbles towards the ground. Red, white and black are traditional colours used in the kite's designs. Each type of traditional kite has its own competition, with heats of 10 teams vying for the best launch and longest flight. Sometimes the kites come down over the adjacent rice paddies, and the team members have to dash through the paddy to rescue the kite before it lands in the water.

A competition is also held for 'New Creation' (kreasi baru) kites which may include detailed three-dimensional figures representing the Hindu Gods or sponsorship kites. Traditional and new creation kites are constructed from bamboo and cotton cloth.

In the dry season of June through August, the winds blow continually from east to west in most of Indonesia. Balinese children and adults fly kites in the vacant rice paddies during this period.

A gamelan orchestra plays music throughout the festival. The festival attracts many tourists and international kitefliers, along with many local spectators.

Balinese calendar

The Balinese observe (besides the Gregorian calendar) two completely different and not synchronized calendars:

the Balinese pawukon calendar, a numeric calendar of 210 days per year

the Balinese saka calendar, a lunisolar calendar starting every Nyepi

Hindu calendar

Hindu calendar is a collective term for the various lunisolar calendars traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping, but differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start. Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Hindu calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in South India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in the Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring, with their heritage dating back to 1st millennium BCE. In contrast, in regions such as Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Malayalam calendar, their new year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchanga (पञ्चाङ्ग).The ancient Hindu calendar is similar in conceptual design to the Jewish calendar, but different from the Gregorian calendar. Unlike Gregorian calendar which adds additional days to lunar month to adjust for the mismatch between twelve lunar cycles (354 lunar days) and nearly 365 solar days, the Hindu calendar maintains the integrity of the lunar month, but insert an extra full month by complex rules, every few years, to ensure that the festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the appropriate season.The Hindu calendars have been in use in the Indian subcontinent since ancient times, and remains in use by the Hindus in India and Nepal particularly to set the Hindu festival dates such as Holi, Maha Shivaratri, Vaisakhi, Raksha Bandhan, Pongal, Onam, Krishna Janmashtami, Durga Puja, Ram Navami, Pana Sankranti, Vishu and Diwali. Early Buddhist communities of India adopted the ancient Indian calendar, later Vikrami calendar and then local Buddhist calendars. Buddhist festivals continue to be scheduled according to a lunar system. The Buddhist calendar and the traditional lunisolar calendars of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand are also based on an older version of the Hindu calendar. Similarly, the ancient Jain traditions have followed the same lunisolar system as the Hindu calendar for festivals, texts and inscriptions. However, the Buddhist and Jaina timekeeping systems have attempted to use the Buddha and the Mahavira's lifetimes as their reference points.The Hindu calendar is also important to the practice of Hindu astrology and zodiac system, most of which it adopted from Greece, in centuries after the arrival of Alexander the Great. The Indian national calendar or "Saka calendar" was redesigned in an effort that started in 1952 based on the traditional Hindu calendars, and it was adopted on March 22, 1957.

Hinduism in Indonesia

Hinduism in Indonesia is practised by 1.7% of the total population, and by 83.5% of the population in Bali as of the 2010 census. Hinduism is one of the six official religions of Indonesia. Hinduism came to Indonesia in the 1st-century through traders, sailors, scholars and priests. A syncretic fusion of pre-existing Javanese culture and Hindu ideas, that from the 6th-century synthesized Buddhist ideas as well, evolved as the Indonesian version of Hinduism. These ideas continued to develop during the Srivijaya and Majapahit empires. About 1400 CE, these kingdoms were attacked from coast-based Muslim armies, and thereafter Hinduism mostly vanished from many of the islands of Indonesia. In 2010, there were an estimated total of over 4 million Hindus in Indonesia according to Indonesian census. The Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia disputed the census methodology, and estimated 18 million Hindus lived in Indonesia in 2005. In 2010, the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Government of Indonesia estimated that about 10 million Hindus lived on Indonesian islands, in contrast to the Indonesian official decadal census of over 4 million. The Bali island in Indonesia has a Hindu majority and the largest number of Hindus living in Indonesia.

Javanese calendar

The Javanese calendar (Javanese: ꦥꦤꦁꦒꦭꦚ꧀ꦗꦮ, translit. Pananggalan Jawa) is the calendar of the Javanese people. It is used concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the official calendar of the Republic of Indonesia and civil society, while the Islamic calendar is used by Muslims and the Indonesian government for religious worship and deciding relevant Islamic holidays.

The Javanese calendar is used by the main ethnicities of Java island—that is, the Javanese, Madurese, and Sundanese people—primarily as a cultural icon and identifier, and as a maintained tradition of antiquity. The Javanese calendar is used for cultural, metaphysical, and spiritual purposes.The current system of the Javanese calendar was inaugurated by Sultan Agung of Mataram in the Gregorian year 1633 CE. Prior to this, the Javanese had used the Hindu calendar (Saka), which begins in 78 CE and uses the solar cycle for calculating time. Sultan Agung's calendar retained the Saka calendar year system of counting, but differs by using the same lunar year measurement system as the Islamic calendar, rather than the solar year. Occasionally, the Javanese calendar is referred to by its Latin name Anno Javanico or AJ (Javanese Year).


Nyepi is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2019, it falls on March 7). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year's Day. On this day, the youth of Bali in the village of Sesetan in South Bali practice the ceremony of Omed-omedan or 'The Kissing Ritual' to celebrate the new year. The same day celebrated in India as Ugadi.

Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and, for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali's usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.

Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents and tourists are not exempt from the restrictions. Although they are free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles responding to life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni (Relighting the Fire), social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together. Fires and electricity are allowed again, and cooking of food resumes.

Pawukon calendar

The Pawukon is a 210-day calendar that has its origins in the Hindu religion in Bali, Indonesia. The calendar consists of 10 different concurrent weeks of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 days. On the first day of the year it is the first day of all the ten weeks. Because 210 is not divisible by 4, 8, or 9 - extra days must be added to the 4, 8, and 9 day weeks.

Public holidays in Indonesia

The following table indicates declared Indonesian government national holidays for the year 2018 only—cultural variants also provide opportunity for holidays tied to local events. Beside official holidays, there are the so-called "libur bersama" or "cuti bersama", or joint leave(s) declared nationwide by the government. In total there are 15 public holidays, and 9 "cuti bersama" or joint holidays.

Solar eclipse of March 9, 2016

A total solar eclipse took place on March 8–9, 2016. If viewed from east of the International Date Line (for instance from Hawaii), the eclipse took place on March 8 (local time) and elsewhere on March 9. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's and the apparent path of the Sun and Moon intersect, blocking all direct sunlight and turning daylight into darkness; the sun appears to be black with a halo around it. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide. The eclipse of March 8–9, 2016 had a magnitude of 1.0450 visible across an area of Pacific Ocean, which started in the Indian Ocean, and ended in the northern Pacific Ocean.The eclipse was clearly visible in many parts of Indonesia, including Central Sulawesi and Ternate, but obscured by clouds and smokes in Palembang, the largest city on the path of totality. The eclipse coincided with Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia and the end of the Balinese saka calendar. Because Nyepi is normally a day of silence, Muslims in Bali had to be given special dispensation to attend special prayer services during the eclipse.

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