Nyepi, Bali's Day of Silence

Posted by Fico , Friday, March 19, 2010 6:35 PM



Every religion or culture all over the world has their own way to define and celebrate their new year. For example, the Chinese have the Imlek year and to celebrate it,
have, as they called it in their own language, "Gong Xi Fat Choy". The Moslem societies have their Muharam year, and any of the people over the world using the Gregorian calendar, celebrate the New Year on January 1st.

Nyepi is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that falls on Bali's Lunar New Year's (in 2010, was on March 16). It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New year Gudi Padva in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in India.


Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for Self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. This year of 2010 Bali closed the airport start at 06.00 am. There is no flights in or out-no activity at all at the airport. And they request for all Indonesia tv station not to broadcast their programs in Bali. This year its really those moment of silence.



At 06.00 too other gate to Bali entrance are closed too (airport & harbours) for 24hrs (re-open again at same hour next day). So Bali is like grave yard for 24hr, very quiet. Any hotels that enoucourage their guest to stroll around will consider as insulting the holiness of the day.

Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.

On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.

  • First, The Melasti Ritual is performed at the 3-4 previous day. It is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa and is performed at the beach to respect them as the owner of The Land and Sea. The ritual performed in temple near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga (sacred objects) belongs to several temples, also to acquire sacred water from the sea. Melasti is meant to clean the pratima or arca or pralingga (statue), with symbols that help to concentrate the mind in order to become closer to God. The ceremony is aimed to clean all nature and its content, and also to take the Amerta (the source for eternal life) from the ocean or other water resources (ie lake, river, etc). Three days before Nyepi, all the effigies of the Gods from all the village temples are taken to the river in long and colourful ceremonies. There, they have are bathed by the Neptune of the Balinese Lord, the God Baruna, before being taken back home to their shrines.
  • Second, The Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual also meant to appease Batara Kala by Pecaruan offering. Devout Hindu Balinese villages usually mak e ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of bamboo and paper symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which involves burning the ogoh-ogoh. They usually make Ogoh-ogoh (the fantastic monsters or evil spirits or the Butha Kala made of bamboo) for carnival purposes. The Ogoh-ogoh monsters symbolize the evil spirits surrounding our environment which have to be got rid of from our lives . The carnivals themselves are held all over Bali following sunset. Bleganjur, a Balinese gamelan music accompanies the procession. Some are giants taken from classical Balinese lore. All have fangs, bulging eyes and scary hair and are illuminated by torches.The procession is usually organised by the Seka Teruna, the youth organisation of Banjar. When Ogoh-ogoh is being played by the Seka Teruna, everyone enjoys the carnival. In order to make a harmonic relation between human being and God, human and human, and human and their environments, Tawur Kesanga is performed in every level of society, from the people's house. In the evening, the Hindus celebrating Ngerupuk, start making noises and light burning torches and set fire to the Ogoh-ogoh in order to get the Bhuta Kala, evil spirits, out of our lives. .



  • Third, The Nyepi Rituals is performed with the following conditions:
    • Amati Geni: No fire/light
    • Amati Karya: No working
    • Amati Lelunganan: No traveling
    • Amati Lelanguan: Fasting and no revelry/self-entertainment
  • Fourth, The Yoga/Brata Ritual starts at 6:00 AM (e.g. March 26, 2009) and continues to 6:00 AM the next day.
  • Fifth, The Ngebak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual is performed for all Hindus to forgive each other and to welcome the new days to come. Ngembak is the day when Catur Berata Penyepian is over and Hindus societies usually visit to forgive each other and doing the Dharma Canthi. Dharma Canthi are activities of reading Sloka, Kekidung, Kekawin, etc.(ancient scripts containing songs and lyrics).
  • Sixth and finally, The Dharma Shanti Rituals is performed as the Nyepi Day or "Day of Silence."



A day after nyepi rituals taken (Ngambak Geni) actually there is an interesting tradition called "Omed-Omedan". It was held in Sesetan street in Denpasar Bali. Omed-omedan in Balinese language means "pull". This tradition held with pulling the opposite sex and kiss them (oww..). This tradition often called "Mass Kissing". The group were seperated between sexes, boys and girls (sorry young single people only!). Each group have to carry one of their group member to the other group-and the other group will pull that person and kissed each other. And its only one kiss!! (hahah!) after that each group will pull that person back to their group (girls and boys).








All participant get their turn to kiss the other groups!

Oh this tradition only held in Sesetan Village Bali.....







More info:
Here and here

2 Response to "Nyepi, Bali's Day of Silence"

next level Says:

it's interesting.....i wish i could be at bali when they celebrate nyepi. I think it would be very interesting to spend a silent day.

Fico Says:

On the day they celebrate nyepi, none goes outside the house doing activity. Thats include any tourist that come to visit Bali.
Most of tourist would avoid this day because they could only spent time at hotel room and watch dvd! because this year you cant even watch tv!

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