The Essences & Festivities of Nyepi

This week, all Bali is getting ready to celebrate Nyepi. We all know it means Silent Day, or the day they closes the airport down. But if you’re interested in learning about the culture – this is a great way to start. What’s New Bali compile all the Nyepi 101 for you, starting from the ceremonies to the Ogoh-ogoh parade.

First of all, it’s important to understand what Nyepi is all about. Nyepi is peak the Hindu Bali New Year’s celebration. It is a 6 days event that ends with total silence. This is very interesting, considering how the rest of the world tend to party like crazy to celebrate New Year. This is a day where everybody set their mind to worship God through praying, fasting, meditating and self reflecting.

The celebration begins on March 25th, with Melasti ceremony. This is the famous ceremony that you wouldn’t want to miss. The ceremony is to purify Bhuana Alit “the small world” and Bhuana Agung “the universe” through Tirta Amerta or the water of life. The ritual is conducted in Pura that is located near the sea. Thus, people will come to the Pura wearing white, which indicates purification. Not only will they cleanse themselves, they also went to purify some of the sacred items from the Pura.

A couple of days after the Melasti, they will have the Bhuta Yajna ritual. These ritual are held in each household, district and province. For each household, they have to give offerings to the Gods. These are done to get rid of all negative elements and restore balance between God, Human and Nature. The district and province ritual are held at noon, around 11-12 AM; meanwhile the village or household rituals are done in the afternoon. Afterwards, everybody has to go out in the neighbourhood bringing torches and noisy uttensils, circling the area clock-wise three times. These symbolize how the people are scaring off all the evil and the negativity that surrounds us.

In the 80s, ogoh-ogoh or the big giant devil paper statues are made to complete the experience. These days, it became an icon of Nyepi. The name was taken from a Balinese word ‘Ogah-Ogah” that means to be shaken. When you see it you can see how the giant paper statue is carried using bamboo base, or machines in the modern days, creating the feel that the devil is dancing or moving. Every village usually prepare their ogoh-ogoh two months before the event. This year, reportedly there are more than 7000 ogoh-ogoh parading in every district. These ogoh-ogoh will be parading in every areas, so you can get a chance to see them in action and celebrate with the Hindu people in Bali. Don’t worry, it will be safe because there will be more than 22.000 pecalang, and 5000 police officers to participate in securing the event.

Here are some of the areas that hosted the ogoh-ogoh festival:
Jimbaran Cultural Village Office
Kerobokan & Petitenget junction (in front of LIO Square)
Puputan Park (Patung Catur Muka Puputan) – the route is from Jl. Hasanudin, Jl. MH Thamrin, Jl. Gajah Mada.
Ground Zero, Legian
Melasti Junction (in front of Grandmas Hotel, Legian)
Jl. Nakula Junction (in front of Mini Mart, Nakula)
McDonald’s Sanur – the route will pass Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai – Jl. Hang Tuah

When watching the parade, please beware that there will be a big crowd so mind your belongings. Try to bring less items, maybe just a bottle of water, money and camera to document the event. Do minggle with the locals and ask around. They will proudly explain to you about their village’s ogoh-ogoh.

Starting from 6AM, Nyepi or the Silent Day begins. There are four main things to do on Nyepi Day, also known as Catur Bratha Penyepian:
Amati Geni, no light a fire or other objects that contain elements of light;
Amati Lelungan, no traveling;
Amati Lelaguan, no entertainment;
Amati Karya, no activities.
The whole day of silence is necessary after the ritual of kicking out the devil the night before, symbolize by the ogoh-ogoh. People says, after the devil is gone, everybody must be in complete silence and darkness, so that when the devil try to come back, they will think that the whole city is empty. Thus, the devil will be on its way and leave us alone through out the year.

The key to surviving Nyepi is preparation. If you and your family are staying in a villa or a house, better stock up on food. Buy things that can be eaten cold, like sandwich, bread, fruits, salad, and many more. Or something that can be easily reheated via microwave or oven. For those with kids, make sure you have plenty of easy entertainment. Some TV cable companies, and even internet, are known to turn off their service for the day. So prepare lots of projects to do with the family beforehand.

If you just couldn’t be bothered with these things, just pack your things and stay in a hotel. There’s a lot of hotels that offers Nyepi package, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as various activities for the guest within the hotel. If you haven’t made your reservation, do check them out here.

After Nyepi is over, on 6AM the next day, all activities are back to normal. The Balinese celebrates the Ngembak Geni, which means free from fire after a whole day of Nyepi. Again, the Balinese will pray and do the ceremony to ask for blessings and safekeeping in the upcoming year. They will also do Dharma Santi – where they visit friends and families in harmony.

pics: St. Regis Bali, Bali Kids Guide


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