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Tradition in Bali, Nyepi.

Nyepi is a holy day for Hindu people in Bali, celebrated every new year of Saka. It is celebrated on Tilem Kesanga which is believed to be the day of purification of the god which is located in the center of the ocean that brings the essence of eternity living water. 

Nyepi is derived from the word silent. Nyepi actually is the Hindu New Year Celebration based on calendar Caka which is started from 78 Masehi. Caka New Year in Bali begin with meditating. There is no activity as usual. All activities are halted, including public services such as any international airport will close but not the hospital. 

The main purpose of Nyepi tradition is begging to the God, to purify Bhuana Alit (the human) and Bhuana Agung (the universe). Before people in Bali celebrate Nyepi, there are several stages that they have to do. 


Three of two days before they celebrate Nyepi, Hindu people will do a purification with Melasti ceremony or some people call it Melis. On that day, every objects that they usually use for praying in the temple will be taken to the beach or lake because beach or lake is the source of holy water (people in Bali call it Tirta Amerta) and can purify all dirty things (people in Bali call it Leteh) inside your body and nature. 

Tawur (Pecaruan) 

The day before Nyepi, we call it “Tilem Sasih Kesanga”, Hindu people will celebrate Buta Yadnya ceremony in every level of society start from family, banjar, village, and so on by taking one type of caru (a kind of sacrificial offerings) according to their ability. There are several parts of Buta Yadnya, it called Panca Sata, Panca Sanak, and Tawur Agung (the biggest one). Tawur or Pecaruan itself is a purification of Buta Kala, all the dirty things (leteh). Caru that held in each home consisting of Nasi Panca Warna (five different color) in nine package and side dishes such as Ayam Brumbun with arak or tuak. Buta Yadnya is addressed to King of Buta, Buta Kala, and Bhatara Kala and hope they will not disturb us on the Nyepi day. 
See Also : The Unique Funeral Tradition in Bali, Trunyan Village
Not only Pecaruan, we also celebrate Pengerupukan. Hindu people will spread Nasi Tawur, go around the house with torches and mesui (it is kind of bark of a special tree), hitting any objects to make noisy sounds. The purpose of this step is to chase away Buta Kala from our home.

The Main Day, Nyepi 

The day after, it is Pinanggal Pisan, Sasih Kadasa (the first date in 10th month) came the real Nyepi day. In this day, the atmosphere become dead. There will not flurry of activity as usual. There is no one can do their activity include Ngurah Rai International Airport, hotels in Bali, Gilimanuk harbor, malls and all of them. Hindu people will do “Catur Brata” Penyepian. It consists of Amati Geni (no fire), Amati Karya (not working), Amati Lelungan (not travelling), Amati Lelanguan (not listening to any entertainment). To start the Caka new year, the base Catur Brata Penyepian is a must to be used. All we do is start from nothing, pure and clean. Everyone will learn to do Brata (curbing the lust), Yoga (linking your soul with God), Tapa (exercise endurance of suffering), and Meditation (become one to the God). All of it becomes a must for Hindu to have inner readiness to confront any challenge of life in the new year. 

The Day After Nyepi, Ngembak Geni 

The last series of Caka New Year celebration is Ngembak Geni which is fell on “Pinanggal Ping Sasih” (the second date in 10th month). On this day, Caka New Year enters the second day. Hindu people will do Dharma Shanti with their big family and neighbors, say thank you and forgive each other to begin a new year with clean mind and body. 

The History of Nyepi Day 

We all know that Hindu originated from India with the scripture Weda. In the early centuries, India and the surrounding area was always experienced social conflicts and crises. A long dispute finally finished under the Raja Kaniskha I government and inheritable to his son Caka in the first day after the dead moon, the first month. The first day in Caka new year. From that we know that this celebration because of the success of King Kaniskha I who unify the nation that had been in a conflict with the religious doctrine of mutually different. Since that, defined the existence of date of the Caka year which is also have 12 months and the first month called Caitramasa and since that the state, society and religion in India reorganized. Therefore, the celebration of Caka New Year means the day of resurrection, renewal, unity, tolerance, and peace. This success spread to Asia including Indonesia.

The Famous Tradition to Celebrate Nyepi in Bali

Ogoh-ogoh Festival

Ogoh-ogoh festival usually held the day before Nyepi, or we call it Pengerupukan. Ogoh-ogoh is a Balinese cultural artistry that depicting the character of Bhuta Kala. In Hindu Dharma, Bhuta Kala (the bad figure) is a power of the universe and the eternal time. In this case, we will see statue as the embodiment of Bhuta Kala and we call it Rakshasa. Instead of Rakhsasa, Ogoh-ogoh also describe the form of creatures that live in Mayapada, Syurga, and Neraka such as dragon, elephant, and angel. Ogoh-ogoh is the symbolic of human oversight to the power of universe and the eternal time. These powers include the power of Bhuana Agung (nature) and Bhuana Alit (human). In Tattwa or philosophy, the strength can deliver living things especially human and everything all over the world to happiness or destruction. All of this is dependent on the human intensions, as the noblest creatures of God in keeping yourself and the whole world. Local people believe that we have to do this tradition before Nyepi because we will let the bad power go around us, we will take them around our place like a festival, but after we do that, we have to burnt them out to make peace for the day after, Nyepi, and hope that they will not disturb us. Some people also believe if we did not burn them, the Ogoh-ogoh will become alive and be a destroyer for our village.

You can find Ogoh-ogoh in every village in Bali, but the big festival usually held in Denpasar, Kuta, Ubung, Padang Sambian, etc.

Omed-Omedan Festival

Bali has a unique and funny tradition called Omed-omedan. If you watch this tradition, believe me it will make you smile as wide as you can. Probably some of you have heard this tradition. Yes, you can come and see many teenagers in Bali hugging and kissing. But do not think this tradition is a bad thing, Omed-omedan is not an event with lustful.

From this tradition, we can learn the meaning of togetherness and family. Omed-omedan tradition usually held the day after Nyepi, or we call it Ngembak Geni. Omed-omedan means pulling each other. You can find this tradition at Sesetan Village, Denpasar, Bali. Teenagers in age 17-30 in the village, who unmarried will participate in this event. The core of the event is hug, kiss, and pull. They will keep doing that until all of the teenager have their turn.

Omed-omedan tradition aims to strengthen the sense of Asah (equality), Asih (love each other), Asuh (nurturing), particularly in Banjar Kaja, Sesetan Village. Before the main event, they will pray together in the temple. Then, you will see attraction from Barong Bangkung, male and female. Once completed, the participant group entered the court of the temple.

There are two groups in Omed-omedan, female group and male group. Their position has to be facing each other. The leader will give the sign to begin the event and they can approach each other. They will hug each other, kiss each other, and then pulling each other.

This tradition comes from the citizen of Puri Oka Kingdom that located in the South of Denpasar. The villager made a game of pulling each other. Sooner or later, the game become more interesting, so it turned into embracing each other. But, because the atmosphere become so crowded, the King of Puri Oka which was sick became angry by the noise. However, once the King came out and saw them, he recovered from his illness because of the tradition. Since that, the King ordered to do Omed-omedan tradition every year, the first fire or Ngembak Geni.

The villager ever stopped doing this tradition but something strange happened. There were two pigs fighting each other in front of the temple. The villager felt scared because it cloud be a bad sign for the village. Since that, the villager keep doing Omed-omedan tradition every year until now.
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Tradition in Bali, Nyepi. Reviewed by Andina Septayani on March 22, 2017 Rating: 5

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