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Nyepi "Day Of Silence"

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Nyepi is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2014, it falls on March 31). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year's Day. The same day celebrated in India as ugadi.

The celebration is based on the Saka calendar, a lunar calendar brought from south India to Indonesia around 465 AD. The Saka year is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar. While the Balinese follow the Saka calendar for religious purposes, they have adopted the Gregorian calendar for business and government purposes.

This celebration usually falls in March or April. The Balinese observe the holiday in various ways, including remaining in their homes for 24 hours, abstaining from lighting fires, sex and work and enforcing strict rules against noise and displays of light throughout the island. It's amazing; the island goes totally silent and Nyepi night is completely dark - uninterrupted by any lights, not even candles.

On Nyepi day itself, everybody in Bali remains at home (including non-Hindus, foreigners and visitors!). There will be a local officer on duty to ensure everybody obeys the prohibitions.

The main purpose of the Nyepi Day ceremonies is to pray to God (Hyang Widhi Wasa) to keep this world in harmony and for self introspection on values.

Related rites before the Nyepi Day (part of Nyepi):

  • Mekiis or Melasti. Each village in Bali brings effigies of God and temple beings in a long and colorful procession to the beach, spring or river accompanied by the gamelan orchestra. Once they arrive at the final destination, there will be a communal prayer toward the ocean. The philosophy of this particular Melasti is to clean all impure things of human (buana alit) as well the universe (buana agung). This rites is usually held three or four days before the Nyepi Day.
  • Tawur Kesanga and Caru. This ritual is held one day before the Nyepi day. In each of the village they will sacrifice chickens, duck, dog, goat or even a cow or buffalo. This ritual symbolizes protection from evil, and the negative forces of human and the universe. This ritual will includes one of the biggest pagaents of Nyepi: The procession of Ogoh-Ogoh through the streets. Ogoh-Ogoh are giant monster dolls symbolizing evil. The dolls take weeks to build and are constructed with bamboo frames skinned with sacks and painted brightly. The Ogoh-ogoh carnival is held at the main village cross road, the meeting place of demons. This carnival is held all over Bali following sunset. Gamelan music accompanies the ceremony. Later in the evening, the Hindus celebrate Ngerupuk, making noises, and burning the Ogoh-ogoh in order to get the evil spirits out of their lives.

If you wish to witness the celebration, be in Bali the day before because the Airport will close on Nyepi Day. And if you wish to see the Mekiis and Tawur Kesanga or Ogoh-Ogoh, you should plan to arrive in Bali 3 to 4 days before Nyepi Day.

Last changed: Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 11:06 am

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