Pagerwesi: A Message to Stay Aware
Today, Wednesday, Balinese celebrate a special holiday, Pagerwesi. The Pagerwesi occur every 210 days on Wednesday Kliwon Sinta (the first Wednesday in Balinese Pawukon calendar). The Pagerwesi mark the beginning of Balinese Pawukon cycle with important message to stay aware and surround oneself with a strong fortification against the forces of evil all the year to come, these pledges clearly stated in the meaning of the word Pagerwesi. The word pager means fence and the word wesi means iron, on this day Balinese have to erect a strong fence against all evil forces.
The celebration of Pagerwesi is based on the ancient scripture, Sundarigama, which stated that Budha Kliwon Shinta Ngaran Pagerwesi payogan Sang Hyang Pramesti Guru kairing ring watek Dewata Nawa Sanga ngawerdhiaken sarwa tumitah sarwatumuwuh ring bhuana kabeh, means Wednesday Kliwon Shinta is known as Pagerwesi, when Sanghyang Pramesti Guru (God as Supreme Teacher) with Dewata Nawa Sanga (Gods that protect nine directions) meditate for the welfare of all being in the world.
On this day, Balinese make and present special offerings to the Sanghyang Pramesti Guru (God as Supreme Teacher) as a sign of gratitude to the God as Supreme teacher and the gods of nine direction for their meditation. Another offering is also presented to the holy spirit of each family’s ancestors, a ceremony and prayers are held at respective family temple as well as at village temples throughout the island. All members of the family also make a visit to their deceased family member that have not been cremated in the cemetery.
There is a great difference on manner and scale of festivity in celebrating Pagerwesi between south Bali and North Bali. In South Bali, Pagerwesi is celebrated modestly and with little pomposity and festivity, no penjor (a lavishly decorated tall bamboo pole) is erected. However, in north Bali, people celebrate it feverishly. Pigs and chicken are killed and cooked into various traditional Balinese dishes, make a visit to the relative and give a sumptuous feast to the visiting relatives are obligatory. Penjor is erected in every house compound’s gate. North Bali Singaraja is full with celebration and festivity.
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