NYEPI SILENT DAY, MELASTI & OGOH OGOH
Nyepi the Balinese Day of Silence is a New Year celebration unlike anywhere else in the world. Bali celebrates the Saka (New Year) from the Hindu calendar, by stopping all activities on the island. Roads are empty of any traffic and nobody goes outside of their homes. The airport remains closed with only emergency flights allowed. Nyepi is almost always celebrated in the month of March or after the new moon that ends the ninth lunar month.
Leading up to the start of this quiet time two of the most interesting & colorful rituals for visitors to experience occur. Melasti is three days prior to Nyepi, when the Balinese dressed in their white traditional costume make their way towards the coastlines, where elaborate purification ceremonies take place. You will see people using all forms of transport, motorbikes, cars, buses and even on foot converging in thousands to the beaches and coast. Pilgrims from various village temples all over Bali bring heirlooms with them for this celebration. This ritual is one of the best times to capture on camera the iconic Balinese living their culture along with the colorful parasols, banners and effigies that accompany it. Visit any beach from late morning on this day to see this cultural spectacle.
On the evening before the silent day the famous Ogoh Ogoh parade takes place, where Balinese men and boys carry large scary creatures normally made in the form of mythological beings, mostly demons. As with many creative endeavors based on Balinese Hinduism, the Ogoh Ogoh represents spiritual aims inspired by their culture. The demonic creatures are meant to scare off evil spirits as they are paraded through the streets accompanied by noise and gamelan music. At the end of the ritual the Ogoh Ogoh will be burnt, symbolizing the eradication of evil sprits far away from Bali. All this activity is in stark contrast to the complete silence which begins just hours after the parade ends.
Nyepi is traditionally a day of silence, prayer and meditation, from midnight until dawn 36 hours later. On Nyepi Day no cars, no bikes, no traffic, and no people outside is allowed. No light should be visibly seen from outside of your home. Even love making, a favorite leisure activity is not supposed to take place, nor even attempted on the silent day. The day after Nyepi is called Ngembak Geni all of the Balinese people wear new clothes, and venture out to visit family and relatives and ask them for forgiveness.