Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
© Michele Falzone/Alam
Terraced fields of green
Twice a year, all of Bali, Indonesia — including those who live and work in the lush, green rice terraces you see here — join together to celebrate the country's most important holiday, Galungan. This 10-day Balinese-Hindu milestone always comes at the end of the traditional 210-day Balinese calendar, usually in March or April, and then again in September or October. This spring, the festivities began on April 14, and on that day the Balinese invited the spirits of their ancient ancestors into their homes with prayers and other offerings draped from bamboo poles called penjor, which seem to be erected everywhere. Planted in the ground at individual homes or along the sides of roads and decorated with coconut leaves and flowers, penjor are used to hang offerings as a kind gesture towards the spirits.
The tenth and final day of Galungan is called Kuningan, which comes on April 24 this year. To mark this finale, a specially prepared yellow rice will be offered to the departing ancestors, a gift to accompany them on their return journey to the spirit world.