Calendopaedia - The Balinese Pawukon Calendar

The Balinese have two different calendars, the Sashi (or Saka), which is a lunar calendar based on a year consisting of 12 lunar months where each month starts on the day which follows the new moon, and the Pawukon calendar, which is the subject of this page. Both calendars have their roots in ancient Java calendars.

The Pawukon Calendar is in daily use in Bali and can cause confusion among visitors to the country. It is used to set the dates for religious and ceremonial events. However other events are set according to the Gregorian Calendar and others to the Sashi calendar mentioned above.

The Pawukon Calendar consists of a period (or year) of 210 days called the Pawukon. This in turn is made up of ten cycles running concurrently. These are cycles of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 days. Each day is named after its position in each cycle and thus has a name made up of ten parts. In practice three cycles are considered more important than the others and they have the greatest influence on life. They are the cycles of 3, 5 and 7 days.

The three day cycle(Triwara) is used to set market days, which vary from village to village, but will all be held every three days. When the five day (Pancawara) and seven day (Saptawara) cycles coincide (every 35 days) this is celebrated as a special day. Other special days occur when the last day of the three day cycle coincides with the last day of the five day cycle (every 15 days) and when the six and seven day cycles coincide (every 42 days). The seven day cycle is used to govern the weeks, and is the most important, which is helpful as users of the Gregorian calendar are used to seven day cycles. The year is thus made up of 30 of these seven day weeks, or wuku.

Names given to the days of the three popular cycles

3 day cycle
  5 day cycle  
7 day cycle
Gunung Tegeh
Redite (= Sunday)
Coma (= Monday)
Anggara (= Tuesday)
Buda (= Wednesday)
Wraspati (= Thursday)
Sukra (= Friday)
Saniscara (= Saturday)

Now just to make things a bit more interesting let me explain that another cycle exists which gives the Pawukon calendar the concept of months. The month (bulan) is made up of 35 days, or five weeks. This means that there are six months in one year. These are not normally shown on the calendar but are important for celebrating birthdays and stages in growing up. The Balinese celebrate their birthday according to the 210 year cycles as well as according to the Gregorian calendar. However the Pawukon birthday is a private event and does not involve a party or presents.

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