Nyepi at Bali

Nyepi

A Time to Self Reflect

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The name Nyepi comes from ‘sepi’ or ‘silent’ in Balinese, and is commemorated also as the beginning of Saka New Year that falls each year on a different date according to the Balinese Saka calendar. 

The day before Nyepi brings the exorcism of the island’s evil spirits. The sunset Ngrupuk parades and burning of the ogoh-ogoh (fantastical demons created out of bamboo and papier-mâché) accompanied by music, ferocious gong playing, fireworks, bamboo bombs, symbolically rid the island of evil spirits. This is the equivalent of the west’s New Year’s Eve, and is a noise-filled and exciting carnival. It is the ultimate contrast to Nyepi.

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. On the island, there will be no lighting fires or lights must be kept low, no working, no entertainment or pleasure, no traveling, and for some, no talking or eating at all. The purpose of Nyepi is to pray to God to purify the human world and the universe. 

During the holiday season the day following Nyepi is one of families visiting each other, offering forgiveness for past deeds, while by contrast the days before Nyepi are full of music, noise and processions.

The Melasti Ritual of purification of statues and effigies takes place three days before Nyepi, gamelan orchestras accompanying processions walking them to the ocean or nearest river for a cleansing bathe.