Nyepi

by Johnny

Unbeknownst to us, we arrived in Ubud, Bali two days before Nyepi, the Balinese “Day of Silence” commemorating the end of the old year and the beginning of the next.  It turned out to be a really cool time to be in Bali.  While the actual day of Nyepi is marked by silence and meditation, the entire day before is full of craziness.  For weeks and months prior to Nyepi, every village throughout Bali creates these heinous papier-maché sculptures called ogoh-ogoh, and on Nyepi Eve they are paraded throughout the island.  As the ogoh-ogoh represent evil spirits, the uglier the better…and most of them were pretty darn ugly.  Anna and I took a walk through the rice paddies to a couple small villages where the people were putting the final touches on their ogoh-ogoh and beginning to march them into town.  At night, all the ogoh-ogoh were paraded down Ubud’s Hanoman Street, where locals would chant, bang drums, shoot off fireworks and finally burn the sculptures in an effort to chase these evil spirits from the island.  It was definitely like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

 

The actual day of Nyepi was the polar opposite of the madness the night before.  This “Day of Silence” is not taken lightly by the Balinese people.  The entire island basically shuts down, including the airport and all ATMs, and nobody is allowed out in the streets.  There are even some policemen patrolling the towns to usher back wandering tourists to their guesthouses.  The whole idea is to trick whatever evil spirits remaining after the previous night into thinking that the island is deserted so they will go elsewhere.  For the Balinese, Nyepi is a day of meditation and self-reflection, and many of the people don’t eat or speak for the entire day.  Luckily for us, our awesome homestay hosts Madde and Ayu were nice enough to cook us a traditional Balinese lunch and dinner, consisting of chicken satay and peanut sauce, tempe, tofu, mixed veggies, sticky rice and, last but not least, some fried bananas.  It was fun getting to know the other homestay guests and learning the significance of Nyepi from Madde and Ayu.  While some people might be bummed about being put on lockdown for a day, Anna and I really enjoyed the peacefulness of Nyepi (which started with a beautiful rainbow), and we both agreed that we could use more days of meditation and self-reflection back home.

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4 Responses to “Nyepi”

  1. Did it really fall on April Fool’s? Love the rainbow…

  2. Impressive photos, Johny. I like your ogoh-ogoh pictures. For me, Nyepi is an unique concept. I wonder how people in one land can really stop their activity all day long including the flights. That’s so peaceful day indeed. I see there is a message about unity among various religions as well. During Nyepi, mosques reduces the volume of adzan (a calling for Islamic prayer) while Hindu people also provide their hall from Islam people who want to prayer in case their mosque is not accessible by walking (because in Nyepi no active transportation devices). Such a nice harmony!
    Thank you for the share, Johny!

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