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Saraswati Day, A Worship To The Goddess of Wisdom

Goddess of Wisdom
Balinese Goddess of Wisdom, Dewi Saraswati
Spread the love Bali, Saraswati day is an important celebration in Bali because Balinese believe that on this the holy knowledge descended from the heaven to the mortal world. Saraswati day is named after the Goddess of Wisdom, Dewi Saraswati. She is also the goddess of arts, learning, and speech.  Balinese Saraswati can be traced back to India, where the same goddess called Sarasvati, the consort of Brahma the creator.

The iconography of the Goddess of Wisdom

Almost the same with Indian Sarasvati, Balinese goddess of wisdom is portrayed by a very beautiful woman with four hands. She holds a rosary, a waterlily, a holy book, and a musical instrument. She always portrayed sit or stand on a waterlily and accompanied by a white swan and a peacock. All of these objects are the symbol of the power of the goddess.

Rosary or “genitri” in Balinese, one of the objects held by the goddess is a symbol of the eternity and that the knowledge has no end. There will be new knowledge that waiting to be discovered and learned. So no one should be overly proud of his/her knowledge because learning is a process that has no ends.  Waterlily is a symbol of purity. Someone who wants to get wisdom and knowledge should have a heart as pure as the waterlily. Even after the knowledge and wisdom obtained, they should keep their hearts as pure as when they began to obtain the knowledge.

While in India’s goddess of wisdom portrayed to hold a holy book, Balinese Saraswati holds a traditional scripture called “lontar“. Lontar is made from processed palm leaf. People use a special knife called “pengrupak” to write on it. The lontar or the holy book is a symbol of the sources of wisdom and knowledge. Life and knowledge without art are boring and dry as a desert. Arts will make life happier and meaningful. Saraswati is also a goddess of arts and creative creations. That’s why she holds a musical instrument.

The Goddess’ companion

Her two companions, a white swan and a peacock is the symbol of what you can achieve from obtaining the knowledge and wisdom. The swan is a symbol of “wiweka” or the ability to distinguish the bad from the good. The swan is chosen as the symbol because it gets the food from mud, and always be able to separate the food from the mud, and only swallow the food, not with the mud. The gracious peacock is the symbol of glory. The glory can be obtained if someone is smart and wise enough. However, the glory can lead to pride, and pride must be controlled. That is the reason that in Balinese Dewi Saraswati’s picture the peacock is always near the feet of the goddess of wisdom.

goddess of wisdom

Saraswati Celebration in Bali

This important holidays in Bali is celebrated every 210 days. This year, the Saraswati is celebrated on 13 October 2018. According to Balinese calendar, Saraswati is always celebrated on Saturday Kliwon day during the week called Watugunung. Due to the difference between the common calendar and Balinese Calendar, the date is different each year. As this celebration is to worship the Goddess of Wisdom, the big ceremony is usually held in schools, universities, and high priest’s houses. In the ordinary household, people will conduct a smaller ceremony.

A day before the Saraswati Day, people will gather all their holy scripture and book in one place. If they have lontars, they will take the lontar and clean them. the books and lontars will be put in the designated place, such as in the family temple or even a table put in the auspicious direction will make it. They will arrange the books, so they can put the offering in front of it. The books and lontars will be the symbol of the Goddess of Wisdom.

On Saturday, early in the morning students will gather in the school or university compound. They then pray in the school or university temple. In Denpasar City, the Saraswati Ceremony is held in the Jagatnatha Temple, in the center of the city. The priest or high priest(ess) will officiate the ceremony and pray to Dewi Saraswati. Depends on the ceremony size, the pray can take up to 2 hours. After praying, the participant will ask for the holy water called “Tirta Saraswati” the water blessed by the Goddess herself. People will take this holy water home and use it to officiate a smaller ceremony in the house.


There is a special offering during the Saraswati Day called “Banten Saraswati“. The offering consists of banyan and fir leaves, special porridge, and an elaborate cake called “Jaja Cecek“. Cecek is a kind of small lizard that lives in the houses of Balinese and it sounds “cek cek cek”. Cecek is also a name of Balinese alphabet associated with the Goddess of Wisdom. Besides the Banten Saraswati, depends on the size of the ceremony, people will make more additional offerings dedicated to the Goddess.

The day after Saraswati is “Banyu Pinaruh” or day of the water of knowledge. During this day, people will take a holy bath early in the morning, and once again pray to Saraswati. After praying, they will take the Jaje Cecek and eat it. The Banyan leaves are also taken and put in one’s ears. Both of the action is the symbol of obtaining the knowledge from the Goddess of Wisdom.

So if you are in Bali during the Saraswati Day, do not miss the opportunity to see the celebration. Please remember to wear a traditional dress before you enter a temple and please obey all the rules in the temple. We hope that you can enjoy an experience observing the Saraswati Celebration.

Read also: Learning Art in Batuan Village Bali

Tentang penulis

Ketut Cakra

Ketut Cakra

Hi, explorer! I am a Contributor to YOEXPLORE Magazine. I am based in Bali, so, do not be surprised if my articles will give more insight into Bali! :)

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