Once every six months, a ceremony is held to honour the Goddess of Prosperity in Bali. On that day, there are several things that you can't do with your money. Here's the story behind it.
Unlike other well-known ceremonies in Bali like Galungan/Kuningan or Nyepi, non-residents of Bali rarely hear about Buda Cemeng Klawu, celebrated once every half-yearly on the island. Yet, Buda Cemeng Klawu, which is also often referred to as "Piodalan Ida Batara Sri Sedana" is one of the most important in Balinese pakuwon (210-day) calendar.
On the special day, you will see many people gather in front of shops, markets or house's temples with stacks and stacks of brightly coloured rattan baskets, along with canangs (offerings), sweet-smelling flowers, and incense. It's the day to honour Dewi Laksmi: the goddess of fortune and prosperity, the goddess of Widya (knowledge), and the goddess who brings happiness between friends and families.
The Balinese believes that money is a vessel. It can sometimes lead us to happiness, but it is not necessarily the happiness itself. It can help you navigate where you want to go in life, but it's not the purpose of life. Therefore, Buda Cemeng Klawu serves a reminder on how we could see money as a means in realising the Dharma/truth/goodness in humankind, and to honour the goddess for all the blessings in one's business and life.
As the goddess of fortune and abundance, Dewi Laksmi is depicted as an elegantly dressed golden woman with owl as her vehicle. She typically holds lotus in her hand, a symbolism for fortune, self-knowledge and spiritual liberation. The Balinese also believes that on the day of Buda Cemeng Klawu, people have to be mindful when it comes to spending their money.
On this day, Balinese are not allowed to use money for things that are not returned to them in the form of goods - because they believe that the money will be lost forever, eaten by the human greed that is not yet purged before the day ends. This includes paying debt, giving donations, or building up savings.
You will mostly see the Buda Cemeng Klawu ceremony held in shops or markets, but larger ceremonies tend to be held in the village's temples. Ask your local banjar where the ceremonies are held, and don't forget to dress accordingly if you're planning to follow the ceremony!