Yoexplore, Family Vacations- Talking about Bali we will be involved with endless talk about the Island of Gods. Nature, history, traditions, and religions will be never enough to be discussed. Now I would like to talk about one of the unique traditions that you can only find in Bali, Nyepi. There are 10 things you need to know about Nyepi Day in Bali:
1. The meaning of Nyepi
The word Nyepi is taken from the world “sepi” means silent or quiet. In some places, this holiday is also called Sipeng. The meaning of Nyepi and Sipeng is the same: silent. As the name suggests, the day of Nyepi will be very quiet. There will be no artificial sound except the sound of nature. People will speak in a low volume and will not use any equipment that will make a loud sound. Children are told not to speak loudly and parents will give them toys to keep them entertained and quiet.
The Nyepi Day in Bali last for 24 hours and Balinese day starts when the sun rises. The day will start at about 6 Am and ends at the same time the next day. So you might see people still doing activities before 6 Am in the date of Nyepi in your calendar. Start from 6 AM, there will be no sound as the Silent Day starts.
2. It is a New Year: Nyepi Day in Bali
Unlike other new year celebration all over the world that celebrated with a party and feast, Balinese Hindu celebrated the new year by a silent day. During the day of silence, Balinese people contemplating what has happened in the last year and prepared the plan for the new year. Many people meditated and fasting during the Nyepi Day in Bali.
3. The Rules of Nyepi Day in Bali
There are 4 prohibitions that should be obeyed by the people who lived in Bali regardless of their religion: Amati Karya or prohibition to work, Amati Lelungan or prohibition to go out from the house, Amati Geni or prohibition to lit fire, and Amati Lelanguan or prohibition to conduct any entertainment. If you break the prohibition, the local traditional police (pecalang) will get you to their office and give you punished according to the local law in the place you stay.
Amati Geni includes all kind of light, so the night will be very dark in Bali. However, some dispensation will be given to the family that has a baby, an elderly person, or sick person in the house. You will need to submit a request to your local community leader in order to get the dispensation. They will check your house before give you the dispensation.
4. The Date of The Holiday is Different Every Year
Unlike the international new year that always celebrated on January 1, Nyepi Day in Bali has no fixed date every year. According to the Balinese Calendar, the Nyepi will take place a day after the 9th new moon. In the Gregorian Calendar, it will be in March.
The Balinese calendar system is very complicated because it combined the solar month and lunar month, so there will be an adjustment every several years. So there will be one extra month added to the calendar. In this case, the 9th new moon usually falls on the end of March. During the ordinary year, the 9th new moon will fall at the beginning of March.
5. It Is Not a Single Holiday
There are many religious ceremonies take places before the Nyepi Day in Bali. Prior to the Nyepi Day, there are some ceremonies conducted several days before Nyepi such as Melasti and Pengrupukan Ceremony.
The first ceremony takes place four to three days before Nyepi day. This ceremony is called Melasti or Melis. During the Melasti day, you will see a long procession to the sea or spring. People will walk to the sea and carry the symbol of gods and other sacred things to the nearest sea or spring. The aim of this ceremony is to purify the symbol of the gods and other sacred things. It is also a ceremony to get the water of life from the depth of the ocean.
Pengrupukan is held a day before Nyepi. In this ceremony, people do “Mecaru”, a ceremony for the lower spirits to bring back the harmony of the universe. The biggest ceremony is held in Besakih Temple at noon, followed by all regencies in Bali by having the smaller ceremony in the main crossroad. The smaller ceremony is also conducted by village and households. The ceremony is usually done in the evening when the sun sets. After the ceremony, there will be the biggest parade in Bali takes place: Ogoh-Ogoh Parade.
6. Ogoh-Ogoh Parade on Pengerupukan Day
Ogoh-ogoh is the giant statue that looks like the evil spirits. The ogoh-ogoh is the symbol of the evil, disharmony, and chaos. After the parade, Ogoh-ogoh is burned down as the symbol of the creating back the harmony by eliminating all the evil and chaos.
Each community group (Banjar) usually create one Ogoh-ogoh to be paraded during the night of Pengerupukan. This is a very long process and usually, start from January. Ogoh-ogoh can be very detailed and beautiful. Some youth organization will get the donation from the villages to create this giant statue. Some district even creates the Ogoh-ogoh competition for the youth group in each Banjar. The most beautiful and innovative Ogoh-ogoh will be the winner. However, they must obey some rules such as the statue should represent the evil force (bhuta-kala), the naming and representation as described in a holy book, and the creativity to implement the concepts into the statue.
View years ago, people started to make ogoh-ogoh from styrofoam. As the statue will be burned, the styrofoam will create air pollution. Recently the government of Bali bans all styrofoam to be used to create Ogoh-ogoh. There are also a movement that initiated by some youth group to create eco-friendly Ogoh-oggoh by using biodegradable materials to make their Ogoh-ogoh.
7. Ngurah Rai International Airport is Closed in Nyepi Day
No flight departed from Bali or landed in Ngurah Rai International Airport in Nyepi Day. Not only Ngurah Rai Internationa Airport is closed, but the aerial space of Bali is also closed. Besides the closed airports, there is no check-in or check out in any hotel in Bali. There will be no traffic and the road will be empty. Only in a case of emergency, someone can use their vehicle to the nearest hospital and they will be accompanied by the local pecalang to reach the hospital.
8. About One Million Liters of Fuel is Saved During Nyepi Day in Bali
Aproximately one million liters of fuel is saved during the Nyepi Day. Not only because the prohibition to use the vehicle, but also the prohibition to use electricity. As we know the electric power needs many fuels to generate power. Only hospitals are allowed to use electricity for the patients’ safety reason.
9. Beautiful Night Sky
Because the prohibition to use the vehicle, the CO2 emissions dropped to the lowest level of the year. The Amati Geni rules also minimize light pollution during the night. Even the only buildings that allowed to use light, the hospitals, are told to minimize the light use. Hospitals also need to cover the windows using non-transparent materials to avoid the light leak to surround the area.
Due to low air and light pollution, the sky is very clear. Depending on the weather, you can see the beautiful milky way in the Bali sky. The stars look very clear and you can feel the beauty of the universe God created. The universe surrounds you will make you feel tiny compared to the whole things. Sometimes feel eerie, but it is the beauty of Nyepi Day in Bali that you can only have the privileged to feel once a year.
10. You Can Do Nothing for A Day
Yup, this is my favorite part of Nyepi Day in Bali. During this day, I can do nothing without being guilty. The local television network is closed during Nyepi Day, so prepare yourself with a lot of entertainment to avoid being bored. Some hotels also offer a Nyepi Package for 3 days and 2 nights. You can use the hotel facilities and they also offer special activities such as meditation.
So, how about experiencing this Nyepi day 2019 here in Bali? It will be a very unique experience to have. See you in Nyepi Day 🙂