Bali is often associated with a unique culture, more than 10,000-temples and colourful festivals, an important facet of which are Penjors; the long bamboo poles decorated with flowers, intricately woven coconut leaves and colourful ornaments, typically seen lining streets and pathways outside homes and leading to temples during special occasions such as Galungan, Kuningan, and other religious ceremonies.
The origin of the Penjor is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated in the Majapahit Kingdom, which ruled over parts of what we now know as Indonesia from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The Penjor may have been introduced to Bali during this time, although it has since become a unique and integral part of Balinese culture.
There are different interpretations as to what Penjors symbolize. Some say they represent Gunung Agung, Bali’s holiest mountain, while others make connections to mystical dragons and the human experience through life. But most will agree though, that Penjors are a symbol of gratitude to the gods and are believed to bring blessings and prosperity to families and communities.
Each Penjor is uniquely crafted, with different ornaments and colours that have symbolic meanings. For instance, the colours yellow and white represent the purity of the soul, while red and black symbolize the balance between good and evil.
The making of Penjors is considered a communal activity, as are many cultural aspects of traditional Balinese life, where families, neighbours, and communities come together to prepare the materials and create the decorations. The process can take several days, and the end product is a stunning display of artistry and creativity.
In addition to their symbolic meanings, Penjors are a reminder of the island’s rich history and traditions, and serve as a source of pride and inspiration for the Balinese people as well as creating a festive atmosphere during special occasions. Visitors to Bali often marvel at their beauty and unique design, making them one of the most popular and easily recognizable cultural attractions in Bali.