How Do You Celebrate Nyepi?

How Do You Celebrate Nyepi?On March 31st Hindu believers come together to celebrate Nyepi, also known as Day of Silence. The timing of it is based on Isakawarsa (Balinese Saka calendar), and marks the beginning of a new year for Hindu believers. As the name suggests, the celebration of Nyepi is far from the usual loud and have-fun-go-mad party. With the exception of hospital, everything is shut down for that day in Bali where most people celebrate Nyepi.

So, how do you celebrate Nyepi?

There are plenty of interesting ceremonies throughout the week of Nyepi, which unfortunately are not known by many. And due to that lack of knowledge, visitors who happen to be in Bali on the Day of Silence often engage in activities that are actually offensive to the celebration.

Here are three things you need to know about Nyepi, and how you can properly enjoy the solemn celebration of this spiritual practice.

The essence of Nyepi

Nyepi falls on Tilem Kesanga (IX), which is believed to be a day of purification for the gods. It is said that the gods live at the center of the ocean, and carry with them the essence of eternal life.

Interestingly enough, most activities are actually carried out a few days prior to Nyepi Day. Melasti ceremony, for example, is a time for the believers to take out all of the worship equipments from inside the temple to be cleaned and purified at the beach. And on the day before Nyepi, the Hindus prepare offerings in their respective homes as part of the Buta Yadnya ceremony. The offerings consist of rice in five different colors and wrapped in nine different packages, complete with side dishes such as (multi-colored) chicken brumbun with wine. This ceremony is done to honor Sang Buta Raja, Buta Kala and Batara Kala, who then would maintain peace and natural order.

And then there’s Ogoh – Ogoh, which is usually observed on the night before Nyepi. This ceremony requires a giant paper sculpture, which is believed to represent the evil spirits, to be paraded around town and burned.

The main idea for this series of religious practices is to perform a string of purification and worship services leading up to the start of the new year. Hindu believers strive to have a pure and clean start.

Meals for Nyepi differ from one village to another. Some villages take part in eating the foods previously prepared as offerings, while in some areas such as Pupuan and Wongaya Gede, the locals prepare a special food called Entil. Entil is a type of rice cake wrapped in nyelep leaf that can turn the color of rice into green.

The leaf also helps preserve the rice cake and makes it possible to last longer. Peope usually eat Entil with a variety of sliced vegetables such as spinach, green beans, and on top a coconut sprinkling known as urap.

Others like in Binoh village, Ujung Kaja, make breakfast food called Batun Bedil. They make it on the day before Nyepi, and eat it on the morning of Nyepi Day.

Batun Bedil is made from white glutinous rice flour and shaped like a rifle bullet. The rice flour is boiled with brown sugar and pandanus leaf. People often serve Batun Bedil with grated coconut and steamed black rice.

Why so quiet?

Curious to know why Bali is suddenly turned into a ghost town on Nyepi day?

The answer is simple. As part of the celebration of Nyepi, the Hindu Balinese are executing a religious teaching called Catur Brata where they do four things in state of seclusion. The four things are not to use the fire (amati geni), not to work (amati karya), not to travel (amati lelungan) and not to do leisure activities (amati lelanguan).

In addition to not do these four things, they also do tapa (enduring a state of suffering), brata (restraining from emotion and lust), yoga and meditation (meditating to get closer with God) .

When is the big celebration of Nyepi?

If you are looking to experience Nyepi, try coming to Bali days before the actual Nyepi day.

Lots of hotels and restaurants are offering Nyepi holiday promo packages, which are usually cheaper compared to other holiday packages. All Season Hotel, Anantara Seminyak, Sanur Paradise Hotel and even the newly reopened D’Cost ViP restaurant on Sunset Road, are offering great packages. It’s best to stay in, enjoy the hotel facilities and honor the silence of Nyepi day.

Another good opportunity to celebrate Nyepi is on the day after. This first day of the Balinese New Year is also known as Ngembak Geni. People celebrate it by sending greetings to friends and relatives. Families come together for a pot luck and have a good time.

This article originally appeared in : Three Things to Know About Nyepi (Day of Silence) | | March 25, 2014

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