Cleansing and starting over again

 

Melasti Ritual Day of Silence Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Melasti Ritual, Day of Silence Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

 

There are so many exciting festivals from around the world, and most are celebrated with festivities and entertainment. Bali, a popular tourist destination in Indonesia, is one of these places that you can go to if you wish to see exciting and colorful festivals. Being the country’s seat of Hinduism, it is where a Hindu celebration called Nyepi is mainly celebrated.

Nyepi is the Balinese Day of Silence. It is a public holiday that involves fasting, silence, no lights, no entertainment, and meditation. Non-Hindu residents and tourists are not exempted from these restrictions. You are free to do as they like inside your hotel room, but no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets. Bali airport is closed for the entire day as well. So if you are visiting Bali over this day, please keep in mind you cannot do any activities.

Dates of Day of Silence:

  • 2015: 21 March
  • 2016: 9 March
  • 2017: 28 March

* Source Wikipedia October 2015  

The day after Nyepi is called the Saka New Year. This is when the youth participate in Omed-omedan or “The Kissing Ritual.” Nyepi is the Balinese people’s version of the New Year. Given their rich culture and heritage, the locals have also formulated their own calendar. This special holiday falls in March every year. The date varies depending on the dark moon of the spring equinox. Numerous activities before and during the Balinese Day of Silence are in line, a tradition that started several years ago. A lot of people visit Bali on this occasion to celebrate the Nyepi.

 

women during Nyep

Women carry offerings during Nyepi

Days leading to the Nyepi

Three days before the Nyepi, the Melasti ritual or cleaning the statues called pratima in Balinese is observed. This helps locals to concentrate their minds and be closer to God. It is aimed at cleaning nature and everything in it. All effigies and symbols of the gods are taken to the river for the cleaning ceremonies, before they are taken back home.

Tawur Kesanga is performed a day before the Nyepi. This is a large exorcism ceremony conducted at the village’s cross road, where it is known to be the meeting point of the demons. This ritual is performed to bring Hindu gods and humans closer to the environment. They do this by burning torches and setting fire on the symbolism of evil.

The actual celebration

Though the days leading to Nyepi are quite loud, the actual Nyepi is very quiet; hence, it is termed the day of silence. No one is allowed to do his or her daily routine. A person is assigned to control the streets for people who might break the tradition. They also stop any other activities from going on. Even the lights and other electronic devices are kept to a minimum. This day is intended for self-reflection and meditation. The day after the Nyepi is still a celebration as ancient scripts containing songs are sang.

It is remarkable how the Balinese are able to preserve their religious rituals. Despite the fact that the world has drastically evolved over the years, the locals are able to keep their culture alive. Nyepi is definitely something that has to be seen by the world.

 

Fire ritual during nyepi in Bali

Fire ritual during Nyepi in Bali