Nyepi, the day of silence it’s a day where you are required to stop, calm down and enter contemplation as the Caka calendar clocks over into the New Year.
The New Year’s Day itself, is support to be a day of silence, prayers and meditation.
Several other cultures all around the world celebrate the New Year with dynamic and sparkling festivities, the crowning point of the Balinese New Year is a day dedicated to complete silence is to not eat, drink, drive , smoke or go outside the house. These once-strict requirements are no longer uniformly observed in the urban areas, but there are strict restrictions about not going outside or make noise this make each village, in fact all of Bali to appear abandoned to the evil spirits. Thinking everyone has left , they will leave too.
The name Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” and falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of approximately equal duration. At Nyepi all fires are extinguished, both literally in the real World and figuratively in the hearts that are malevolent. The Balinese hope to restore inner peace in this day.
The day before Nyepi is a time for casting out evil. Animals are sacrificed and the small statues that serve as receptacles for gods and deified ancestors are carried to the holly spring or to the sea for symbolic washing called “ melasti” which means cleansing.
The day of Nyepi cars are not allowed on the streets, no electric lights are used, and there is very little noise expect for roosters crowing in the morning and frogs croaking at night. Woman’s start cooking for nyepi on the day before because no cooking can be done on Nyepi day.
The eve of nyepi day is a celebration with a lot of noise, music and dance. Is the parade of the Oghoh-oghoh, statues build on form of mythological demons and it represents spiritual aims. The main purpose of the making of Ogoh-ogoh is the purification of the natural environment of any spiritual pollutants emitted from the activities of living beings. An Ogoh-ogoh is normally standing on a pad built of timber planks and bamboos. The pad is designed to sustain the Ogoh-ogoh while it is being lifted and carried around the village or the town square. There are normally eight or more men carrying the Ogoh-ogoh on their shoulders. This procession is accompanied by orchestral music performed by the youth. The use of flares is also a main part of the parade.
During the procession, the Ogoh-ogoh is rotated counter-clockwise three times. This act is done at every T-junction and crossroad of the village. Rotating the effigies during the cremational parade and the eve of Nyepi represents the contact of the bodies with the spirits. It is intended to bewilder the evil spirits so that they go away and cease harming human beings.
On Hindu New Year’s Day, Hindus participate in 6 Nyepi rituals:
- Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity.
- Amati Karya: No working.
- Amati Lelunganan: No travelling.
- Amati Lelanguan: No revelry/self-entertainment .
Yoga/Brata Ritual starts at 6:00 a.m. and continues to 6:00 a.m. the next day. Ngembak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual is performed for all Hindus to forgive each other and to welcome the new days to come. Sixth and finally, the Dharma Shanti Rituals are performed after all the Nyepi rituals are finished.
On the day after Nyepi, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together. Fires and electricity are allowed again, and cooking of food resumes.
The Day of Silence is a tradition that dates back to some of the earliest years in Balinese history. Balinese people believe that remaining silent for a full day after loud celebrations will trick evil spirits into thinking that the island of Bali is uninhabited. According to this idea, the spirits will leave the island alone since their ultimate goal is to torment humans. According to Hindu beliefs, it is the responsibility of humans to maintain the balance between the gods, Earth, and humans.
Nyepi is unlike any other holiday in Bali, and is certainly unlike any experience in the West. For 24 hours you can experience the entire island in complete silence; bugs, ducks and birds dominate the soundscape without the low hum of motorbikes, it is something that we believe, everyone should have on their bucket list to experience at least once in their lifetime.