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Nikko Bali News - March 2009


Nyepi day (silent day) is one of the biggest and most important Balinese religious days held each year.

There are four series of ceremonies in Nyepi day :

  • Melasti or Mekiyis or Melis
    Melasti is the first ceremony held three or four days before Nyepi and aimed to clean the nature with its contents and also to take the Amerta (holy water) from the ocean, lakes, rivers or other sources of water. On this interesting occasion, all the effigies of the Gods from all the village temples are taken to the river in long and colorful ceremonies. There, they are bathed by the Neptune of the Balinese Lord, the God Baruna, before being taken back home to their shrines. Several communal prayers will also be held until the last evening before the Nyepi day.
  • Tawur Kesanga (The day before Nyepi)
    It is the second ceremony held exactly one day before Nyepi. All villages in Bali hold a large exorcism ceremony at the main village cross roads - the meeting place of demons.
    The remarkable event is Ogoh Ogoh. It is a fantastic monster of evil spirits of Bhuta Kala, made of Bamboo with colorful paper mache which symbolize the evil spirits surrounding the environment which have to be ridden off. In order to make a harmonic relation among human beings, God and their environments, Tawur Kesanga is performed in every level of society, from the people's houses. In the evening, the Hindus celebrating Ngerupuk, make noises, light and burn torches and then set the Ogoh-ogoh afire in order to get the Bhuta Kala, evil spirits, out of their lives.
  • The Nyepi Day, the silence day
    Nyepi, comes from the word Bahasa 'sepi' which means 'quite' and it is the peak of the festivities. According to the Balinese calendar, Nyepi Day this year falls on 26 th March 2009. This year in the Caka calendar, this has 35 days in a month. It is still 1930. The activities in the entire Bali Island are stopped for 24 hours. There are four mandatory religious prohibitions called Catur Brata Penyepian which should be observed by common Hindu people in Bali. The prohibitions include amati geni or no fire, amati karya or no work, amati lelanguan or no entertainment and pleasure, and amati lelungan or no travels. Air, sea and land transport are suspended in Bali during this day. These prohibitions help people to control their five earthy senses by mind and wisdom in order to improve the quality of life for the upcoming year. For people with higher spiritual ability or willing to have higher spiritual life are expected to perform further prohibitions include fasting by not eating or drinking, staying still by not talking, meditating by focusing the mind to the God and praying. For the hospitality industry such as hotels or villas are open for business but outdoor activities are forbidden and the guests are asked to stay indoors.
  • Ngembak Geni, a day of forgiveness
    The anti-climax of Nyepi day is on the following day and when the Berata Penyepian is over. This day is called Ngembak Geni where people share happiness by visiting their relatives and friends. They start the New Year by forgiving each other and forget the hatred in the past year and work together to face the challenges of the New Year. Only a simple ritual rite is performed within the house compound for this day. Various cakes will be made to welcome the visitors, relatives and friends.

*photo courtessy of Bali Photo Gallery


The day commemorated as the victory day of "Dharma" (virtue) upon "Adharma" (evil) according to the old history of Bali (Purana). This day the Hindus thank the God and feel grateful for His blessing and for the creation of the earth and its contents. This day is the day of rituals, festivities and celebrations with "Penjor" the artistically decorated bamboo-pole stuck at every house entrance, adorning the both sides of the village-roads symbolizing of prosperity.

There are several processions need to be done to celebrate Galungan Day:

  • Penyebakan (3 days before Galungan)
    On this day, people begin to prepare the necessities for the Galungan ceremony. They collect fruits and store them in a special place until they get ripe.
  • Penyajahan (2 days before Galungan)
    On Penyajahan day, people keep on maintaining awareness, patience and the purity of the soul in order to control the demons. Another meaning of Penyajahan is making or cooking Balinese cakes (jaja). Therefore, on this day, people have to cook various kinds of Balinese cakes for the ceremony to come.
  • Penampahan (1 day before Galungan)
    This is a sacrificial day. This is the day to slaughter sacrificial animals like chickens, ducks or pigs. People cook them into various kinds of Balinese food, such as satay, soup, lawar (a special Balinese food made of meat or vegetables, mixed with coconut sauce).
  • Galungan Day
    On the Galungan day itself, Balinese Hindus go to temples and other holy places to pray. People are dressed in colorful Balinese costumes. Women carry the offerings on their heads and men bring palm leave offerings in their hands, while the children walk hand in hand next to their parents.
  • Manis Galungan (1 day after Galungan)
    On this day, Balinese Hindu communities usually visit their relatives, friends and neighbors. They forgive each other and remain together. It is also a day to relax and visit places of interest, after the long days of preparations for the celebration.

Kuningan Day, 28th March 2009
The last day of Galungan celebrations, believed as the rising day of the holy spirits and deities back to heaven on this day, special offerings consisted of yellow rice and temples look amazing with ornaments made of young coconut leaves and flowers .

*photo courtessy of Bali Photo Gallery

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