Bali has its own calendar system. In fact it has two. The saka calendar which is based on the lunar cycles and the pawukon calendar which is said to originate from the rice growing cycles in Bali.
The saka calendar is fairly similar to the Gregorian calendar. The pawukon calendar system on the other hands is very unique and a little harder to grasp if you aren’t from Bali.
The Saka calendar
Let’s start with the easy one – the saka. The saka calendar is based on the moons cycles. The year is divided in to 12 months consisting of 29 – 30 days each, each month beginning after the new moon. Every 30 months an extra month is added to keep the calendar in sync with the solar year.
The saka calendar is the calendar that determines the date for the Balinese New Year, Nyepi – The day of silence where the entire islands shuts down leaving room for self-reflection and meditation.
The Pawukon calendar
A Pawukon year consists of 6 months of 35 days making adding up to a total of 210 days. A number of days, which is believed to be rooted in the cycles of the thousands of years old rice growing tradition in Bali.
The tricky part of the pawukon calendar comes to understanding the weeks and the weekdays. The calendar has 10 different week-circles, all running simultaneously. The weeks are from one to ten days long all with their unique set of names for the week days. That mean the same day often have different names, depending on which of the 10 week circles is being used. To add to the complexity, the ordering of the weekdays isn’t always the same (like in the Gregorian calendar, where Wednesday always follow Tuesday) and a 4, 8 o 9 week isn’t always 4, 8 or 9 days long, since 210 (the days in a year) can’t be divided by these numbers some weeks have extra says added. If you are interested in the exact details you can read a very detailed explanation here.
Pawukon sets the date for many of the traditional Balinese holidays and festivals, like Saraswati, Pagerwesi, Kuningan and Galungan, that due to the pawukon calendar is celebrated every 210th day.