Galungan – Victory of Dharma | The Culture of Bali

I had the great honor to travel to Indonesia for three weeks this summer. Besides the spectacular landscapes in Bali, Komodo and Java, I also wanted to learn more about the culture and the people. Especially Bali, the island of the gods, holds many stories and myths.

During my stay there was Galungan, a Balinese holiday celebrating the victory of dharma (good) over adharma (evil). It marks the beginning of the most important recurring religious ceremonies and the time when the ancestral spirits visit the Earth.

The Barong dance featured battle between Barong and Rangda to represent the eternal battle between good and evil. Barong is the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good, and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders in the mythological traditions of Bali.

It is an important part of the magic of Bali to understand that everything flows as one here – the divine, humankind and nature – every individual is in one way or another contributing to the overall energy that transmits throughout the island.

Every household offers their reverence and hospitality through offerings and prayer. A so-called ‘penjor’ – a curved bamboo pole decorated with offerings made from coconut and palm leaves and flowers – arch the roads serving as enchanting reminders of its ancient past.

Besides the celebration, I also had the opportunity to shoot with some traditional Balinese dancers. One of the most beautiful dances is Rejang. Dressed in great costumes with headdresses, this dance is traditionally performed by young women at a ceremony in the inner courtyard of the temple. This dance is also one of the holiest sacrificial dances to entertain the visiting gods and spirits.

Another very common dance is the Legong dance. It tells the story of 13th century Java and is a cultural treasure of Bali, known for its physically demanding postures and fast-paced movements which require a significant level of flexibility among its generally young female performers.

Thanks to my friend and fellow photographer Daniel Kordan (check out his workshops in Bali and Java) and Odi Gudang (knows every corner in Bali). Without you I would never have been able to get to know all these beautiful places and people.

Filmed with a Sony Alpha 7 IV ( & Sony Alpha 7S III (

Check out the Making Of:

Camera, Editing & Grading: Dennis Schmelz
Sound Design: Friedhelm Mund
Text & Speaker: Claudina Hoff ter Heide
Visual Effects: Pascale Kanew
Scouting: Daniel Kordan
Local Fixer: Odi Agung

For licensing inquiries please contact info(at)
It’s not allowed to use any of this footage without licensing – also for non-commercial use.

MY EQUIPMENT (Affiliate):
You can find a complete overview of my equipment on Kit:

Edited and graded in Adobe Premiere using my own presets:

“Prejudice” S-Log3 LUT:
“Transsiberian Dream” LUT Package:

In my YouTube video I use licensed music from Artlist :

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#indonesia #bali #galungan

© Dennis Schmelz | 2022

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