Just like the other Indonesian islands, religion is an important part of the Balinese people. On most of the Indonesian island the main religion is Muslim, but on Bali the biggest religion, with 93% of the population, is Hinduism. The Hindu religion is like the red threat in their live. Everyday, offers are made for the gods. You can see this offers almost everywhere, in front of the many temples, shops and the markets. The Balinese people have their own calendar, related to the Saka and the Wuku, which counts a total of 210 days. At the beginning of the Balinese New Year, they celebrate for four days Hari Raya Nyepi, the day of silence. Hari Raya Nyepi will be celebrated all over Bali.
Hari Raya Nyepi is the celebration of the New Moon. During the first three days of Hari Raya Nyepi, the people of Bali will be dressed with beautiful, colorful traditional clothes, known as the Melasti pilgrimage. From all over Bali, pilgrims from different villages temples will convoy heirlooms on long walks towards the beaches to have purification ceremonies. This ceremony is definitely worth a watch, don’t forgot your camera to take some authentic pictures!
The evening before Nyepi, the Saka New Years Eve, is all about sending the bad spirits away. All households start at the family temple with a ceremony. Every family member has to participate in a ‘chasing away’ ritual, called bhuta kala. This goes with loud noises and slamming on pots, pans, other loud instruments and a big bamboo torch. These bad spirits are later during the night shown as the Ogoh-Ogoh, papier-mâché made dolls that represent the evil spirits, made by the people themselves. While the Ogoh-Ogoh’s parade trough the streets of Bali, firecrackers and bamboo cannons will fill the air with fire and smoke. The Nyepi Eve parade usually starts around 19:00 local time. This parade isn’t just a parade, but also a competition between the different city districts. A jury will judge the Ogoh-Ogoh’s. Just like the Melasti pilgrimage, this parade is worth a visit if you are on Bali during Hari Raya Nyepi. You will shoot some fantastic photos and get in touch with the real Balinese culture.
After Nyepi Eve, Nyepi starts at 6am in the morning. During Nyepi it is not allowed to leave the house, be active, eat and drink, to have lights on and to use fire. Everyone will be inside their house, even the people that or not Hindu, to show them respect. This will be for 24 hours. Bali wont be alive for 24 hours. Everything is closed. There will be no cars or motorbikes on the streets, except for ambulances and police cars and emergencies. Hotel guest can continue their normal hotel activities inside their hotel; they are not allowed to go to the beach. The Balinese people use this day for total relaxing, to pray and think about how blessed they are with life. Another reason why there is a total silence on the island, is top keep the over flying bad spirits away from Bali. Because there is total silence and there are no lights, the bad spirits are unable to find the island and pass the island.
The day after Nyepi, everything turns back to normal. Still, this day is a religious day and in Sesetan, southern Denpasar, there is a festival, omed-omedan, also known as the festival of smooches. This is a festival for single men and women between 17 and 30 year. Only the people of Banjar Kaja Sesetan kan participate. The ceremony starts with praying together and after the praying the group will separated into two groups, men and women. The groups will position themselves on the main street, facing each other. When the Hindu leader gives the sign, the groups will go the centre of the street. The men must pull and kiss the woman while the other villagers are throwing water over them. The ceremony ritual is older than 100 years but it is not sure when the kissing came along.
If you are in the Kuta area, you should definitely give a visit to Kuta Beach. All the dolls are shown at the beach and the judge will announce who is the winner of this year. This gives a really impressive view and good for some awesome pictures.
If you ever been to Bali during Hari Raya Nyepi or planning to, we from Odyssey Surfing School are curious about your story! Don’t be shy and share it with us.
During the Hari Raya Nyepi, Odyssey Surf School is closed all the four days, so there won’t be any surfing lessons. The day after Nyepi we are ready to welcome you with open arms and catch some waves together!