This Saturday (March 5th) marks the Balinese New Years also known as Nyepi. There are several parts and rituals to the celebration including:
Melasti: This happens a few days before Nyepi and involves the purification of all sacred objects. Taken from all the temples, the objects are then purified in the sea.
Bhuta Yajna: In order to appease the evil spirits, the Balinese make ogoh-ogoh (paper statutes made from bamboo and shaped in grotesque forms). Then, on the day before Nyepi, many of the major streets are shut down for the ogoh-ogoh parade. The young village men will parade these statutes around all day until they are burnt at night. This symbolizes the death of all evil spirits.
Nyepi: This is also known as the “Day of Silence” because the ENTIRE island shuts down for 24 hours (6am-6am). That means absolutely no one is allowed to leave their homes (hotels if you’re a tourist) or make any noise. No electricity should be used either – that means no a/c, no lights, no TV etc. If you must switch a light on, it cannot be seen from outside or else the Pecalang (the traditional security force) will come by and demand you turn it off. If they find you outside of your home, they will physically escort you home. The airport is even shut down for the day and all Indonesian television stations are asked not to air anything in Bali.
The reasoning behind this is because the Balinese people do not want to attract the attention of any evil spirits that may be flying over the island. If the entire island is ‘dead’, the evil spirits will fly away because they’ll think no one lives there.
I’m actually quite sad that I’m missing out – I would have loved to see the ogoh-ogoh parade and the chaos that it creates. Apparently in years past, they’ve made the ogoh-ogoh look like George Bush, Osama bin Laden and even Godzilla!
It would have also been very interesting to experience a quiet Bali – no cars honking, no scooters whizzing by, no one screaming at each other…
But, because of a few different reasons, I flew to Kuala Lumpur 2 days ago and won’t be back in Bali until the 8th – well after the island is back to normal. More on my thoughts of KL next…
(Click here to read more on Nyepi)