For those of you travelling to Bali for the first time, you may wonder what Nyepi is all about. Nyepi means “to keep silent”, the name pretty much says it all. It is a very special day in the Balinese Hindu calendar that is celebrated every year. On this day, we stop whatever it is we normally do to take a break and do self-reflection. Traditionally, the local Balinese meditate, fast, and pray for one whole day. There is very minimum to no electricity, and it is the only day when everything is shut down, including the airport. Speaking of airport closure, if you plan your trip to Bali around Nyepi, it is best to check in advance when it occurs, as the date changes every year. If this year is going to be your first time spending Nyepi in Bali, here are some things that you might need to know.
Cleanse The Soul
Three days prior to Nyepi, you will see a number of Balinese Hindus dressed in white traditional attire, carrying umbrellas and offerings, with gamelan music playing as they walk to the nearest beach. Melasti, as we call it, is a purification ceremony that marks the beginning of Nyepi. In the Balinese Hindu belief, water washes away the negative energy – it cleanses the universe and one’s soul from “the evil within” like greediness and unnecessary attachment towards material things. At the end of the purification, everyone will pray facing the sea. It is an interesting cultural and spiritual event to witness during your holiday in Bali. You can come close to the ceremony but please be respectful by wearing an appropriate outfit and to remain silent.
Adieu, Evil Spirit!
Remember the famous Tim Burton’s film The Nightmare Before Christmas when the King of Halloween stumbles through a portal to Christmas town? Well, in Bali, the night
mare before Nyepi is an Ogoh-Ogoh parade. It is an island-wide parade when demonic-looking statues depicting the evil spirit are carried through the streets by the Balinese youngsters, usually male. At the end of the procession, the Ogoh-ogoh will be shaken and then burnt to ashes to get rid of the malicious spirit and start Nyepi in peace. The Ogoh-ogoh parade is a must-see if you happen to be in Bali during Nyepi period.
Find Yourself in Silence
Nyepi is not only special for the Balinese Hindus. You can also use the moment to unplug and reconnect with yourself. Imagine this, for one full day, you can fully take a break from your daily hustles; a smartphone that keeps buzzing, never-ending unread emails, and social media notifications. It is the perfect time to detach from the world, have a good quality conversation with family and friends, spend the afternoon floating around the heated infinity pool, take part in a yoga session, walk around the agroforestry garden, stop and smell the roses (literally), listen to the sound of the birds, and feel the breeze touch your skin. In the evening, sit outside at the room balcony or terrace, look up to the sky and be mesmerised by the glorious view of the sky. The stars look the brightest as we dim the lights all over the island. All of those simple things that are part of our every day that we can easily miss and very often take for granted.
The Smooching Festival
This may sound bizarre, but isn’t Bali full of things that blow your mind away? Omed-omedan (meaning, to pull) or the kissing festival is an old Balinese tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a day after Nyepi when the bachelors and bachelorettes of Sesetan village gather for a mass kissing ritual. The participants will be divided into two groups, male and female, facing each other. The men will then approach the women to pull and kiss at a given signal. The rest of the villagers will pour water over then that is believed to bring blessings in the new year. Visitors are allowed to observe this very unique tradition but unable to participate, and please protect your camera and electronic devices when you do so as they will be buckets of water being thrown away from many different sides of the streets.
Now you see why this day is a very special one in Bali, it is not something you get to experience everyday. To our guests staying with us this March, we look forward to spending the Day of Silence with you.