Saraswati Day

Knowledge is very important for Balinese. Every Saniscara, Umanis, Wuku Watugunung, they celebrate Saraswati Day, the knowledge day. It is based on the Pawukon (Balinese calendar) system and the Saniscara (seven day cycle).

The name Saraswati came from “Saras” meaning flow and “wati” meaning a women. The Saraswati festival is celebrated in honour of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music and the arts. Saraswati is a beautiful woman with four hands, riding on a white swan. It it is said that that knowledge is like a beautiful woman, chased by all men for all of their lives and that with knowledge man can distinguish between good and evil.

Saraswati is one of the most revered and popular Goddesses in Bali. Her gigantic statue can be found in every school, college and university all over Bali. In her four hands, Saraswati holds a palm leaf manuscript called a lontar (representing the source of knowledge), a genitri (a chain with 108 pieces, symbolising that knowledge has no ending), a wina musical instrument (symbolising that science is as beautiful as the sound of wina), and a lotus flower which is a symbol of holiness. She rides white swans (prudence) among lotus flowers (water lilies are a holy symbol in Bali).

Families collect all their books, clean them off and dust them down, then place them in the family or school temples. Every place of learning and office is decorated lavishly, with shrines to the Goddess placed in the northeast corner of the building. Ornate offerings of food are taken in solemn procession to the piles of books in the temples and students and office workers get the day off as nobody is supposed to use books on Saraswati!

In Bali Saraswati occurs every 210 days according to the Balinese Pawukon (cycles) calendar. The celebration of Saraswati is during the morning only. No celebration is held after noon as it is believed that the goddess returns to heaven then.