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Let's Take a Moment and Hit Pause: Happy Nyepi Day, Bali!

Let's Take a Moment and Hit Pause: Happy Nyepi Day, Bali!

Indonesia is indeed known for marking the calendar red for religious holidays of all six official religions that are recognized by the nation. That right there brings us to the celebration of various national public holidays of different backgrounds, which includes different kinds of New Year. Starting off with the ‘regular’ New Year that marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Gregorian calendar, followed by the Chinese New Year, Islamic New Year based on the Hijriah calendar, and then we also have the celebration of the Balinese Hindu Saka New Year which has its very own specific touch in its celebration.


Nyepi is the Hindu Day of Silence. Unlike most traditions in celebrating New Year, the Balinese Hindu way involves a 24-hour (6 am - 6 am) ritual that does not allow one to leave the house, or make fire which in the modern day equals to no lights or use any electrical devices. It also requires one to fast for those 24 hours and limit all verbal communication, because you know, the name of the day itself is Silent Day. It is a fresh start; entering a new chapter where meditation and self-reflection is required.


This year, Nyepi will fall on the 21st of March, 2015, and as all years ever before, that translates into having the entire island to hit the pause button altogether, which we think is completely powerful, beautiful and at some level even necessary. While the spiritual rituals are only for the Hindus, there are still the main rules that apply to everyone on the island. Ground rules are: no noise, no visible lights from inside your home, no wandering on the streets, no leaving your hotel.  The pecalang (the local banjar’s security team) are out there to make sure that everyone follows the rules. Of course, there are exceptions for emergencies such as for women who are about to give birth or when someone has to be ran to the Emergency Room.


The most important and beautiful ceremony prior to Nyepi is called Melasti. This year’s Melasti takes place for three days, from March 18 until March 20. People from all villages all around the island will head to the beaches throughout Bali to perform this ceremony.

 

They will walk carrying long-poled umbrellas, proceed in lines towards the sea. Women carry fruit, cakes and flowers in their colorful offerings and the men carry the sacred family heirlooms on bamboo litters. The purpose of this ceremony is to purify Buhana Alit (the earth) and Bhuana Agung (the entire universe) from all evil thoughts and deeds.


The day before Nyepi is called Ngerupuk. The main purpose of Ngerupuk is to drive away the evil. It consists of several different rituals which includes spreading rice, smoking the house and yards, lighting up firecrackers around the house as well as both the front and backyard, and make banging noises. All those rituals are held in effort to scare away the demons.

 

And after these rituals are performed, the most high profile part of the Nyepi preparations would take place and take up the attention from everyone on the island! Yes, we are talking about the Ogoh-Ogoh Parade!

 

Ogoh-ogoh are statues that are normally formed in shape of mythological beings; most of them being scary demons of many kinds and sorts. The Ogoh-Ogoh parade symbolizes the act of getting the demons out of the neighborhoods and lives. By the end of the parade, the ogoh-ogoh will be burned, also symbolizing that the demons are gone. And that the good has once again defeated the evil demons in life.


At last, Happy Nyepi, everyone!


PS. Check out our footage from the previous years! Have fun!

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