People in Bali had celebrated their Saka (Hindu calendar system) new year. Not like the celebration of usual New Year’s Eve which is full of party and fest, this event is celebrated in total silent and peace.
This celebration is known as Nyepi. As its name implies, Nyepi means making total silent. At Nyepi, Balinese Hindu people do Catur Brata Penyepian or Four Prohibition which must be done. It creates a unique situation when Bali Island is really silent and empty like a dead town. What kind of unique ceremonies are done before and after Nyepi? What is actually the Four Prohibition? Let us take a closer look.
Meaning and History
Nyepi comes from word sepi which means quiet or silent. All Balinese will stay inside their home all day so every activity in Bali is dismissed for a while, except hospital. Just like mentioned previously, this holiday is done with silent and self reflection. Thus, in Nyepi every Hindu person in Bali does a self reflection for what they have done since last year and then prepare for a new year as a better and holier human.
This tradition was firstly started in 78 BC as a celebration of New Year event. Nyepi is commemorated in the Tilem Kesanga (the ninth month in Saka year system) which is believed as the best time to get closer to God. Besides that, Tilem Kesanga is also believed as a time when the Gods come to the earth bringing life holy-water juga (tirta amerta) for human being.
Before Nyepi comes, Balinese Hindu People will do Melasti / Melis / Mekiyis ceremony which is aimed for purifying and cleaning the Bhuana Alit (human body) and Bhuana Agung (the universe). This ceremony is usually done within one week before Nyepi when every society inside village or Banjar brings their temple’s holy equipments to any holy place with flowing water like sea, lake, or river. By splashing the tirta (holy water) from those water sources, it is expected that the water could purify the universe and the body of human itself.
Bhuta Yadnya and Pengerupukan Ceremony
One day before Nyepi, there is a Bhuta Yadnya ceremony which is done to repel the evil spirit or so called Bhuta Kala from everybody’s environment. Before evening, Balinese will do Pecaruan ceremony which is aimed for the evil spirits so that they do not disturb the universe’s balance. After that, in the evening until midnight, there will be Pengerupukan ceremony when people will do Ogoh-Ogoh parade all over Bali. Ogoh-Ogoh is a kind of giant statue or doll in form of ferocious Bhuta Kala. Ogoh-Ogoh is usually paraded around the village or town by the local residents. Actually, the Pengerupukan night is the most interesting part of Nyepi ceremony series, because the Ogoh-Ogoh are usually very attractive and artistic. Moreover, the sound of Gambelan Beleganjur (Balinese orchestra) and the line of youth bringing bamboo torch give more flamboyant atmosphere. Maybe, if it is counted there will be thousands of Ogoh-Ogoh in whole Bali. In the end of the parade, Ogoh-ogoh is burnt or destroyed as a symbol for Bhuta Kala or evil spirit annihilation.
Nyepi is started at 6 in the morning after Pengerupukan night and will be lasting until 6 in the next morning. All Hindu people in Bali is obligated to do Catur Brata Penyepian consist of four prohibition.
Do not light fire (including electricity)
Do not work. Enhance spiritual cleansing, instead.
Do not travel or go out of your home. Do self reflection, contemplate on every act that you have done and will be done.
Do not revel (including eating). Concentrate your mind only to God, instead.
At Nyepi, Bali will be in total silent. There will be no activity, no noise. Maybe there will be only activity of Pecalang (traditional security) patrolling around and activity of hospital which, however, must continue its operation. At night, Bali Island will be in total dark because there is no one turning on the light. At this moment, you will find what the true peace is. Imagine that in a whole day, Bali has reduced the number of pollution and other kinds of nature contamination.
Ngembak Geni Ceremony
Ngembak Geni is done after Nyepi Day. In this day, Balinese will do Dharma Shanty or visiting family and relatives to strengthen the good relation. This is a kind of positive start that Balinese do in the New Year.
The series of Nyepi Ceremony had actually designed well by our ancestors to honor the universe and everything inside it. Started from Melasti, when we can purify ourselves and our surroundings; then continued by Bhuta Yadnya, when the evil spirits repelled so that the peace on universe could be maintained. After that, Nyepi Day, a special day for nature to “rest,” far from pollution, noise, and exploitation. Finally, ended by Ngembak Geni which is aimed to maintain the good relation between human and to realize peace. Nyepi is indeed a celebration, but a celebration full of peace and tranquility. Given not only to human, but also the whole universe.