Nyepi Balinese New Year

Page Overview:

What is Nyepi
When is it happening
Good to Know
The Nyepi Rituals
What are the Ogoh-Ogoh

Nyepi 2019: 7th February, Thursday

Nyepi - Unique in this World

Contrary to several other cultures all around the world who celebrate the New Year with dynamic and sparkling festivities, the crowning point of the Balinese New Year 6 day celebration is a day dedicated to complete silence - NYEPI.
On the 3rd day the entire Island comes to a standstill, with no scheduled incoming or outgoing flights from Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar (DPS).
This day is called Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” and falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of approximately equal duration.
Hotels are asked to cover their windows, all shops are closed, all! No light or candle will be lit in any Balinese home, no cars on the road, no motorbikes, no people. It's indeed a special experience, not only for the Balinese but also for all the visitors and tourists that are on Bali during Nyepi Day. If you are in Bali during Nyepi make sure you do not plan any traveling or outside activities.

Good to Know about Nyepi

Nyepi is the most important and sacred Hindu holiday on Bali and is a general public holiday in the rest of Indonesia.

The famous ogoh-ogoh parades, where Balinese men (and boys) carry scary creatures of respectable sizes through the streets accompanied by noise and gamelan music is happening on "Nyepi Eve", the evening of the second day after New Year.

Tourists and visitors are welcome to watch the parades, take pictures and witness this unique spectacle. Some of these ogoh-ogohs are actually burnt after the parade.

On the actual day of Nyepi (3rd day of the 6-day festival) the entire Island is "closed". The roads are off limit to all types of motorised vehicles and people on foot! The airport is closed. All grocery, clothes and other types of shops are closed. For tourists and Balinese. Restaurants are closed. The Beach is prohibited. Basically anything other then being indoors is restricted. While indoors the inhabitants must ensure that all audio devices are turned down to a minimum volume. As the day draws to an end and the sun sets, the curtains need to be drawn shut, with minimum light being used in ones living quarter. If an airplane was to fly over Bali, the Island would not be seen. To ensure that all the rules are obeyed local watchmen known as Pecalang (Nyepi Police) are deployed all over the Island.

Nyepi Parade

The evening before Nyepi day Balinese carry large Ogoh Ogoh through Bali's streets. Already young kids follow the example of their fathers. The statues are up to 25feet tall and can be very heavy. With the help of a bamboo grid a large group of men carry the ogoh ogoh followed by Balinese gamelan musicians.

Nyepi & Balinese Calender

The start of "Caka" year - Balinese New Year – is celebrated by the Hindus over a course of six days, with the ogoh-ogoh parades after sunset of day two and Nyepi, day of silence, falling on day three.

Nyepi is a day that the Hindu Balinese dedicate completely to connect more deeply with God (Hyang Widi Wasa) through prayer, fasting and meditation with an additional layer of introspection of the Self, to evaluate personal values such as love, truth, patience, kindness, and generosity.

This religious ceremony is bigger and more lavish than any other in the year. There is a myth that, after the boisterous and active celebrations of day 1 and day 2, the Island goes into hiding to protect itself from the evil spirits, fooling them to believe that Bali, enveloped in an atmosphere of complete tranquility and peace, is a deserted Island. This myth dates back to the mythical times of evil spirits, Gods, superheroes and witches.

On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together. Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens.

Nyepi Day like almost all Balinese religious festivals and holy days is always calculated based on the Balinese calendar (Caka or Saka).
One full year of the Balinese calendar consists of 12 sasih (Balinese months). Each month (sasih) consists of 35 days which is usually a complete cicle of one new moon ( dark moon or Tilem) and one full moon (Purnama).

Nyepi Rituals

As preparation to the build-up to Nyepi Day, are a series of rituals conducted in literally every part of the island.

However, Balinese New Year is celebrated for 6 days with Nyepi - the day of silence, being only one aspect of it. There are several rituals that stand out:

Melasti Ritual

The first is The Melasti (Melis or Mekiis) Ritual which is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa and performed 3–4 days beforehand to acquire sacred water from the sea. The ritual is performed in Pura (Balinese temple) near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify sacred objects such as Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga belonging to several temples. Similar rituals are performed at the Balekambang Beach on the southern coast of Malang, East Java, it is the ritual of Jalani Dhipuja.

Bhuta Yajna Ritual & Ogoh Ogoh Parade

The second is The Bhuta Yajna Ritual, which is performed one day before Nyepi, in order to vanquish negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual is also meant to win over Batara Kala (see below) by the Pecaruan offering. Tawur Kesanga and Caru are sacrifice rituals that take place one day before the Nyepi Day.
Different levels of sacrifice are held at villages and provinces by sacrificing animals such as chicken, ducks, pigs or even cows and bulls. Various plants and crops are additionally used as part of the offerings. Devout Hindu Balinese villages start making ogoh-ogohs about 2 months before Nyepi. These are demonic, giant statues made of bamboo and paper, symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits. At sunset, between 5-6pm, the ritual of Pengrupukan takes place (ogoh ogoh parade). At this time the Balinese parade the streets with the ogoh-ogohs, passionately playing a deafening mixture of the kulkul (traditional bamboo bell), claxons, gamelan music and drummers music.

The basic idea is to scare of evil spirits by making unbearable amounts of noise as is humanly possible. Although these rituals take place over the entire island, one can experience the best processions either in Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur and other popular beaches. Each village makes at least one spectacular Ogoh-Ogoh and take pride in the entire process. Areas such as Sanur, Kuta, Denpasar, Ubud usually hold contests for the best Ogoh-Ogoh. In the evening the Ogoh-ogohs will be ceremoniously burnt in the main ritual of Ngrupuk, where they are totally engulfed in flames. The burning of the ogoh-ogoh symbolizes the eradication of any evil influences in life. This is followed by more dancing, drinking and feasting in a rather chaotic fashion, all with the aim of driving evil spirits far away from the Island. Not every ogoh-ogoh will be burnt these days, so ask the locals whether thier village still follows htis custom or not.

Nyepi - Day of Silence

The third are the Nyepi Rituals. Nyepi Day!
This day is strictly reserved for self-reflection anything that might interfere with that purpose is strictly prohibited. The inner and outer world is expected to be clean and everything starts anew, with Man showing his symbolic control over himself and the "force" of the World, hence the mandatory religious control. Nyepi expects a day of absolute silence, based on the four precepts of Catur Brata:
Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity. Prohibition of satisfying pleasurable human appetites.
Amati Karya: No form of physcial working other then that which is dedicated to spiritual cleansing and renewal.
Amati Lelunganan: No movement or traveling.
Amati Lelanguan: Fasting and no revelry/self-entertainment or general merrymaking.

Yoga Brata Ritual

The fourth is the Yoga/Brata Ritual which starts at 6:00 a.m. on the day of Nyepi and continues to 6:00 a.m. the next day. The faithful Balinese spend this day in meditation.

Ngembak Agni / Labuh Brata Ritual

The fifth, is the Ngembak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual which is performed the day after Nyepi and is the official New Years Day. Ngembak is the day when Catur Berata Penyepian is over and the Balinese Hindus visit families, neighbours and relatives to exchange forgiveness.
They also conduct the Dharma Canthi, activities of reading Sloka, Kekidung and Kekawi (ancient scripts containing songs and lyrics). The youth of Bali practice the ceremony of Omed-omedan or The Kissing Ritual to celebrate the new year.

Dharma Shanti Rituals

The Sixth are The Dharma Shanti Rituals, reciting ancient scriptures, which are performed after all the Nyepi rituals are finished and mark the closure of this very sacred week in the Balinese Calendar.

Who is Batara Kala

For the Balinese, Batara Kala is the god of the Underworld and god of destruction. He is the son of Shiva (Batara Guru) and was originally sent to earth to punish humans for wrongdoings and evil habits. Balinese believe, that Batara Kala also "consumes" unlucky humans, so they are performing the Bhuta Yajna ritual to scare off unluckiness and evil. Further Balinese believe, that Batara Kala is the bringer of solar and lunar eclipses, because he is the enemy of the god of the sun and the god of the moon. Balinese however love the gods of sun and moon and perform sacrifices to ward Batara Kara off.

When is Nyepi in Bali?

Year Date Caka Year
2019 Thursday, 7th March 1941
2020 Wednesday, 23rd March 1942
2021 Sunday, 14th March 1943
2022 Saturday, 3rd March 1944
2023 Wednesday, 22 March 1945
2024 Monday, 11th March 1946
2025 Saturday, 29th March 1947
2026 Thursday, 19th March 1948
2027 Monday, 08th March 1949
2028 Sunday, 26th March 1950
2029 Thursday, 15th March 1951
2030 Tuesday, 5th March 1952