Our Balinese friends will be celebrating their traditional new year this Tuesday on 12 March. As most of the population in Indonesia is Hindu, the festival also belongs to same religion. Nyepi, as it is locally called is observed as the ‘Day of Silence’.
It is a Government holiday in Indonesia when all the shops, offices even the airport is shut down. Only ambulances in case of emergency are allowed. Although most communities celebrate New Year with lot of festivity, the day of silence is completely opposite and is strictly followed by fasting and meditation. Nyepi is observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next day. All activities of work, leisure and entertainment are banned for people of all communities, even tourists who happen to travel during this time of the year. The whole point of doing this is to provide people an opportunity for self reflection, a chance to meet their innermost thoughts and grow closer to the nature and the cosmic universe around us.
The holy rituals begin from the Melasti Ritual that is performed 3-4 days beforehand. It is meant to purify Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga (sacred objects) belonging to temples and to acquire sacred water from the sea. Next is the Bhuta Yajna Ritual performed to defeat the negative elements and restore balance between God, Mankind, and Nature. The third day is Nyepi, the day of silence.
The fourth is ‘Ngembak Geni’ a day after Nyepi, is a much more active day when families and friends come together in celebrations and holy rituals. On this day people ask each other for forgiveness for their wrong deeds of yester year.
Thus on this auspicious occasion, the JTTJ team also wishes all the Indonesians a happy new year and ask for forgiveness for the past.