Nyepi is right around the corner on March 21st, and in preparation, I have done some research about Nyepi day and the ceremonies that surround it!
Nyepi day – Balinese New Year
Nyepi is the Balinese New Year and it is a day of reflection. On Nyepi everyone stays inside and needs to follow the Catur Vrata Penyepian.
Catur Vrata Penyepian- 4 restrictions of Nyepi
- Amati geni – No fire, electricity, etc. (no cooking, must fast!)
- Amati karya- No working (stay at home and do reflection)
- Amati lelungaan – No going outside, no traveling
- Amati lelanguan- No having fun, no entertainment (must be silent and reflect)
Melasti means procession in Bahasa, and this ceremony happens three days before Nyepi. On Melasti, each village brings temple idols, barongs, offerings and more to the beach for purification. This ceremony is for the purification of the gods.
On the morning of Melasti the entire village gathers, sometimes starting as early as 4am, to travel to the beach together. A convoy of the whole village is formed for the procession to the beach, and they bring with them offerings and temple equipment, including a barong, shrines etc to be purified at the beach. Gamelan is played on the journey to the beach and continued throughout the ceremony at the beach.
Once they arrive at the beach, the offerings and temple equipment is placed on a stand and everybody prays. Holy water is then is spread on the people, offerings and shrines for purification. After about two hours, everything is taken back to the temple for more prayer. At the temple holy water is distributed to all the attendees, who then leave the temple to go home and pray again. While only about 2 hours are spent at the beach, Melasti is a whole day affair.
Not all of the villages in Bali are on the coast, and because of that, multiple villages use the same beaches for this ceremony. A schedule is formed so that all of the villages are able to use the beach for their ceremony and not overlap with each other.
Pengrupukan is always the day before Nyepi, and is also known Ogoh Ogoh Day. The ceremony on Pengrupukan is meant to purify the universe before starting the new year.
On the day of Pengrupukan a priest sprinkles the Ogoh Ogoh with holy water, and around 6pm, the youth from each Banjar carry their Ogoh Ogoh down the main road, instr
uments are played, and it is a parade with the Ogoh Ogoh. After the parade, the Ogoh Ogoh is brought to a cemetery and burned.
The burning symbolizes the neutralizing of all the bad spirits in the universe so that they will not bother people when celebrating the New Year.
An Ogoh Ogoh is a BIG statue made from wood and paper mache, then elaborately decorated to look like a demon. It is made about a month before Nyepi by the youth from each banjar. Once completed, up to 100 people are needed to carry the Ogoh Ogoh.
Ogoh Ogoh is a symbol of bad spirits – burning the Ogoh Ogoh kills the bad spirits and then everything can be positive, and the universe is pure again.
Ngembak Geni is celebrated the day after Nyepi. This day is for visiting extending family and is the closing for the Nyepi/the new year celebrations and ceremonies.