Categorized | Culture

Nyepi, The Quietest Day in a Year

This year, March is going to be the day that people are waiting for. It will be soon this middle of March, Balinese celebration for the positive power wins over the negative. A month earlier, Balinese youngsters busy preparing for the things needed for the day awaiting. It is called Silent day for the quietest day in a year in Bali. It is the only one which is happening in the world.  There is no other similar day anywhere else but Bali. The three series of the celebration strings are covering; the day before Nyepi which is well-known as Pengrupukan, The Nyepi Day itself and the last is the day after Nyepi known as Ngembak Geni.

The youths in every Banjar (Social community which normally consists of some families) gather up to create Ogoh-ogoh (Deity figures which represents negative energy) a month earlier. This ability has flowed in the blood of youth to create giant deity figure. They are able to make it since they are born. The Figure itself is made up of bamboo which are split up into small and thin pieces then formed according to what they want to make. The base for the creature is from solid woods. Then after the master figure is done, the whole object then is covered up by papers to be painted in many colors. For the head and face is usually from the fiery mask of giant face with its grin or long teeth sticking out of its mouth supported by a long white hair. It is a part of the ritual that the head should be covered up until the due date arrives to avoid bad spirit dwells in this gigantic figure. When the time comes, with special offering, the cover can be revealed.

Then when the day is approaching, Pengrupukan starts the processions. A special ceremony is conducted in every Balinese house to keep away bad spirits which are dwelling the spaces at home. The family members will work together to carry out the ceremony. The women will carry the offerings needed for the day, then the father will hold flaming dried coconut leaves, the rest of family members carry any tools that can produce noise. This entire set will go around the house, in every corner of the house, under beds, damp places in the house, etc, making sounds out of the tools they carry, followed by the torch and the offering. Finally, after this all finish, the leftover of the dried flaming coconut leaves are left at the house gate with the offering as the signal that the house is bad spirit free. The activity should be conducted in the afternoon at 5 or 6 pm which is called as Sandi kala (the time shift between noon and evening).

When the night comes, every village in Bali does the next procession which is carrying deity representations around the village.  The deities which are in form of furious and horrible appearance will be carried around the village. The other villages cannot come across the other to carry theirs. They only circle their own area. However, other symbols of Punk model, Motor bike driver and other modern forms are adopted for the ogoh-ogoh as the modernization takes place in Balinese life.

The representation is still having a connection as the influence is not always good. Sometimes, some influences need to be filtered to be useful. These young people carrying the gigantic creation bring up flammable spirit cheering up the festive night, followed by the girls behind holding torches from bamboo. The whole village areas then full of the joyful for the celebration, the noise from the crowd, the light out of the torches and other expressions from the other village members with their own noises.

At the end of this celebration, the ogoh-ogoh will then be burned at the Junction to symbolize the end of the night, for the positive energy takes over the earth. Yes, the celebration lasts only a night. The sound of Kulkul (Thick Wood producing loud sound when hit as a mean of communication at Banjar) is now replacing over the night to accompany the people at home.

The next day, silence takes over the whole Bali area. There is no sounds, no people and vehicles on the road, no kids play around, No schools open, No works and completely nothing except for the silence. This 24 hours silence stops the whole activities in daily life. International Bali airport closes down. No flights operate for the day. No TV program and radio running, no lights during the day. The businesses have paused that day. Even the birds are not chirping. There is an exception for not following the rules especially for emergency such as Hospital will be still open 24 hours, ambulance, fire fighter, police station, and people with babies are allowed to have lights at home. The day of silent starts from 6 am to the next morning, 6 am.  The whole Hindu are fasting and meditating during the Nyepi day for self purification. People are staying in their houses to do these four forbidden things during Nyepi day until the next day when the day ends.

Additionally, there are four things should not be done; which are: no lights, no work, no entertainment and no travelling. Hindu are taught to purify themselves and control their passions for daily needs of light, work, eat, drink, entertainment, travelling. This is the time for them to do fasting. Others will do a little bit harder; no talking and fasting. Other religions are also participating by doing those four.  They show their respect to live side by side in the peace.  Tourisms aspects are also showing the same respect by not using lights and allowing their guests coming down to the road.

The next day, Ngembak Geni, is highlighting the end of the moment of Silence. Live gets back to normal again. All aspects of live runs back to normal routine until the next Nyepi day arrive again. The crowd starts again in every corner of Bali, Chats, noises, activities take over again. Offices open for the day and the flights are operating back. Kids play again with their laughter. Houses are full of activities, cooking, entertainment, etc. Fasting and no talking ends, as well as four forbidden acts which are no activity, no entertainment, no light and no travelling are also end.

The end of the day signifies how important to stop the whole activities in a day. This will be beneficial to the world if other countries can do the same. May the silent day in Bali can inspire others to take the same acts for a better future. This action will help to prevent the global warming and to protect our beloved mother earth. Imagine, a day without pollution all over the world, a day without emission from the vehicles or airplane and a day without electricity. Earth will be healthy again gradually. This action will only once in a year which will cost nothing for the sake of us and young generation.

2 Responses to “Nyepi, The Quietest Day in a Year”

  1. Oma says:

    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours these days, but I never discovered
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  2. Maui says:

    carol – Wow the pictures are beautiful. The expressions that you have captured on the children’s faces bring them to life! I was sorry to have missed this very special celebration it was fun to watch these monsters being created during my visit to Bali. Thanks for taking me along on the parade! Again you are amazing!

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