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Saraswati: the knowledge day

By Dr I Nengah Subadra

19 August 2017


Today Hindus in Bali are celebrating Saraswati – a holy day which is believed to be the day of knowledge when the almighty God “Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa” blesses the first knowledge to human being.



Saraswati falls every six months Balinese calendar or equals to 210 days or in Bali the day known as Saniscara Umanis Watugunung. A number of offerings are prepared by mothers at least three days prior to the day to ensure all offerings are ready on Saraswati Day to be served in their family temples, schools and public temples.




Grilled duck is served on Saraswati day which symbolize the capability of human selecting the good thing (food) within the bad environment (dirty water). In other word, human is expected to be very selective in gaining knowledge wherein they should only learn the good ones which is useful for the human life. Thus, duck is considered to be one of the sacred animals by Hindus in Bali since most of rites conducted within the island of God use ducks for thier offerings. 


The knowledge is symbolised with Dewi Saraswati, a beautiful goddess representing any interesting parts of the knowledge which is continuously learnt by the human for their lives in the universe.  


Rituals are centralized in schools (including primary schools, secondary schools and higher educations) where students gain knowledge. Each school has a temple shrine where they worship the god daily and more particularly on Saraswati Day the school authorities will serve a special rite to respect the god of knowledge and to thank Him for the knowledge graced. All students and teachers/lecturers are sitting on the school temple area paying their sincere to the Goddesses “Saraswati”.


All books and electronic reading sources at home are set on the table and served an offering to respect them. Students will get holy water from their school temples to be used purifying their books at home.


Books served offering on Saraswati day



Additionally, public temples such as Besakih (Karangasem), Goa Lawah (Klungkung), Uluwatu (Badung), Tanah Lot (Tabanan), Tirtha Empul (Gianyar), Jagat Natha (Denpasar) will also be visited by millions of Hindus on this special day. Worshippers will come in turns wearing traditional Balinese costumes and bringing offerings to be served for the god and goddesses dwelling in the temples.  


The temple will also be well-decorated with colourful costumes that creates such a religious atmosphere and brings visitors to a real divine world. For tourists, this is the best day to gaze at authentic Balinese cultural attractions within those temple sites where local people practising Hinduism which tightly embedded with local Balinese culture that makes different with other Hinduism practices within the globe.


The holy day of “Saraswati” to finish with "Mebanyu Pinaruh" rite on the following day where Hindus visiting water sources such as beach, river or lake to purify their body, soul and mind. Such purities shall be use to start their time learning more and more knowledge needed for their lives.


In Southern part of the island, Hindus usually go to Sanur Beach, Kuta Beach, Seminyak Beach, Nusa Dua Beach and other beaches nearby their homes. They serve some offerings such as Sanang Sari, Segehan, or Pejati on the beach before the start swimming in the beach as symbol of purification.




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