Honouring learning, knowledge and wisdom

Lontar, Palm Leaf Manuscript

The Balinese holy day of Saraswati honours the Hindu goddess of wisdom, knowledge and learning Dewi Saraswati. Hindu philosophers view wisdom as attractive and something to be desired and therefore feminine. That said, although Saraswati is the goddess of learning and books, counterintuitively, no reading or studying is allowed during the day however in the evening the Hindu holy book may be read but only in the temple. As well, interestingly computers are not blessed on this day, they are blessed together with tools made of iron on Tumpek Landep.

Saraswati is actually observed over three days – Saraswati (Saturday), Banyupinaruh (Sunday) and Coma Ribek (Monday) – every six Balinese calendar months (210 days) and it always falls on a Saturday. Throughout Bali special offerings are made and presented for books and lontar (palm leaf manuscripts). Saraswati is an important day on the Balinese school calendar with young Balinese students coming to school dressed in their finest temple attire to join teachers and priests praying over their books and study materials. At universities Balinese alumni often return to their alma mater to join the worship.

Around Bali images and statues of Saraswati depict a beautifully lithesome woman with a crown, dressed in a sarong and sitting upon a lotus flower with a swan and peacock at her feet. Her four arms display instruments symbolising learning and knowledge – usually a lontar, rebab (Indonesan stringed instrument) lotus flower and vessel with holy water.

Saraswati temple celebrations are held at:

  • Pura Pasek Gelgel, Bongkasa village, district of Abian Semal, Badung regency
  • Pura Pemaksan,Banyuning village, East of the town of Singaraja
  • Pura Dadya Agung Bendesa Tangkas Kori Agung, Gerih village, district of Abian Semal, Badung regency

Image Source: Komaneka Resorts Ubud

Saraswati | Bali Bali