Can you imagine anywhere in the world where for 24 hours the entire population is required to stay home, be quiet and use no electric lights?
Here in Bali each year for one day, Nyepi, that is exactly what happens.
In complete contrast, on the evening before Nyepi giant Ogoh Ogoh are paraded on the streets with much noise, excitement and commotion. These effigies are so frightening and scarey that any evil spirits that might be lurking around are so spooked that they all flee Bali. the next day in silence and darkness the evils are unable to find their way back home again and thereby have to search for a new home leaving Bali evil free…. …
Sometimes weeks, even months can go by and its easy to get caught up in the hum drum of ‘life as normal’ forgetting that I live on the exotic and magical Island of Bali.
This morning, though, I woke to the sound of Gamelon and the reminder that Bali is a land where the connection to the Gods and spirits are part of daily life for Balinese people. Wandering onto the street in front of my house this morning I sat and witnessed about an hour of Bali culture as a huge procession passed by. Today is Melasti day of purification when offerings are taken to the ocean . Not a day for tourists to be taking a driving tour of Bali, streets all over Bali will be filled with thousands of families taking part in these processions and traffic will be at a stand still.
3 more important ceremonies will take place over the next few weeks, but the most unusual and dramatic of all happens next week.
On Monday night Ogoh Ogoh are paraded through the streets, with much noise and excitement. These huge scary effigies have taken months to make and are spectacular. Their job is to scare away any evil spirits.
The following day Bali is quiet and dark, the evil spirits are confused, they cant see or hear anything here so they leave, Bali is now safe – for another year…
On Nyepi, the silent day, everyone is required to stay at home, you may not go onto the street, work, make noise or use electricity, including lights. The airport is even closed as the lsland falls into silence and in the evening no lights are turned on so the island is also in total darkness. The chaos and madness that you normally associate with Bali are gone and peace decends on this island of the Gods… for one day of the year !
This year Nyepi falls on my Birthday, so I will not be celebrating this year, I will stay home and be quiet and sit in the dark like the Balinese. Perhaps as the evils leave Bali they will also leave me alone and I will have an evil free year, I can only hope !
Its Galungan time again. Bali is at its most pretty during this festive holiday and people travel home to their villages for one of the most important ceremonies in the Bali calendar.
My friend and I traveled to Candi Dasa in east Bali to hang out in our favorite secluded beach spot…
A spontaneous decision to go to Ubud for the day on Saturday was rewarded by running into a huge cremation ceremony. Now this may sound morbid, but actually the Balinese have a very complex and sacred process to send their loved ones on their way and a cremation is always an amazing, spectacular and vibrant affair.
It costs a lot of money for a cremation and so often families wait until an auspicious day in the Bali calendar and have a group cremation with families sharing the costs. Several years ago I was lucky enough to be at a royal cremation, also in Ubud, at this ceremony hundreds of cremations happened on the same day .
Bodies are usually temporarily buried for different lengths of time, often years, waiting for an appropriate date in the Balinese calendar. Bodies are placed in the funeral pyre which is a decorated man made bull. These are then paraded in the street with several men carrying them on bamboo platforms on their shoulders. On the way there is much noise , running around in circles and water being sprayed. They are taken to the cremation area to be burned. The ashes are then gathered and taken to either a river or the ocean.
This morning my motor bike is being decorated and blessed. In the Balinese calender, today is ‘ Tumpek Landep ‘ - the day to give thanks to Sang Hyang Pasupati, The God who gave metal to Mankind.
All metal objects are blessed today from cars and motorbikes, farm equipment and tools to kitchen utensils, computers and cameras.
On the outskirts of Ubud, Bali, on a typically chaotic street, motorists come to a respectful halt while a procession of women carrying large fruit offerings make their way to the temple.
A group of men performing the Kecak Dance in Ubud. Sitting in a circle, the men rhythmically chant cak cak and wave their arms around in the air. The performance is inspired by the epic Hindu story the Ramayana.
What a great week we have had in Bali. My previous post mentions the build up to Nyepi, the day of silence, and the Ogoh Ogoh procession…. before the fact.
So.. . here’s some photos of the Ogoh Ogoh procession night, which was spectacular by the way ! The quality of the photography is pretty bad, they are very hard to shoot as they are moving pretty fast and kids are squirting water everywhere !
It’s times like these that I fall in love with Bali afresh
Ogoh Ogoh - The night before Nyepi, Bali’s day of silence, Giant Ogoh Ogoh effigies are paraded through the streets all over Bali. These amazing creations are carried on bamboo platforms and carried by young men along the main roads. They go into a frenzy at crossroads and are rapidly turned round and round, if you are standing too close you better look out ! Accompanied by laser lights, burning torches and loud clanging music, this is a high energy ceremony and definitely one of Bali’s best night’s out.
Ogoh Ogoh represent Demons or mythological beings and are burnt on the beach the day after Nyepi, the day of silence. Nyepi starts at 6am the morning after the Ogoh Ogoh procession. It is believed that these ceremonies will rid the island of bad spirits. The universe and we humans who live in it are cleansed and we are encouraged to contemplate how we can live harmoniously together.
Going to the temple with offerings on the days leading up to Nyepi, the Bali Hindu day of silence.
Babi guling, how the Balinese love their pork !
Bakso soto ayam, Chicken soup for the soul..
some unknown drink ingredient, agar agar I think..
Sate, everyone’s hungry after a day at the temple
Nyepi is one on the most unusual events in the Bali Hindu calendar.
This week is the build up to the day of silence which is on Friday the 23rd March. All week ceremonies are being held all over Bali and the hand made effigies ( Ogoh Ogoh ) are being finished off before being paraded around on Thursday night.
From Friday 6am until Saturday 6am restrictions are in place for everyone in Bali, Tourists included. We are to stay at home, no going out onto the streets at all, in the evening no lights are to be put on. Bali will be in darkness and all will be quiet for this special day of silence. It should be a day of reflection and no entertainment or work should be done during this time.
Even the International airport closes on this day.
On the Nyepi day ceremony people pray for God to cleanse the Universe and all inside the Universe, Humans included.
This is an amazing time to be in Bali, the Ogoh Ogoh parades which take place all over Bali are especially amazing – Ill share photos of them after the event on Thursday night. Also, the day of silence and dark night means that we foreigners have to share the experience with local Hindu Balinese – even if we hold different religious beliefs. I never mind having these restrictions put on me each year, taking a day out for quiet contemplation is a rare thing and highly valuable no matter what your beliefs are.
Balinese life revolves around their many ceremonies, for foreigners who like things
to be there when we want them, to run on time, be able to do what and when we want…
you’ll be frustrated by Bali.
But if you can be patient in traffic jams in the hot sun you might be delighted to see the
reason behind the traffic pile up…
Galungan is a Balinese holiday that lasts for 10 days. During Galungan family ancestors visit their former homes. Prayers and offerings are made for them by their families.
The streets are lined with beautiful Penjor as pictured below.