Hospitality’s Best Kept Secret

Nyepi, Balinese New Year

Nyepi is a Hindustan Day of Silence that celebrates the Hindu New Year on the Balinese Saka calendar. It’s the largest celebration held in Bali.

 

How is Nyepi celebrated?

Two or three days before Nyepi, Balinese from all over the island will conduct a significant purification ceremony called ‘Melasti’. The day begins with prayers in the family temples followed by ‘pengrupukan’; where family members clang a series of loud objects (pots, pans, instruments) around their homes/compounds to chase away malevolent spirits. These spirits are represented by the ogoh-ogoh sculptures which will then be paraded, down the streets, from each individual Banjar at 3 pm towards town.

Then on Nyepi Day, the Balinese people will then spend the day fasting and resting in contemplation, meditation and refrain from all worldly and physical activities for 24 hours. They will also observe Catur Brata Penyepian or the four main rules.

 

Commemorating the start of the Hindu New Year, Nyepi is calculated according to the Çaka lunar calendar and falls at the time of the new moon in March or April each year. This year (2021)  it falls on March 14th and it lasts 24 hours, which is from 6 am to 6 am the next day.

 

What does Nyepi Celebrate?

From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self-introspection to decide on values, e.g. humanity, love, patience, kindness, etc., that should be kept forever.

 

How is Nyepi celebrated?

Two or three days before Nyepi, Balinese from all over the island will conduct a significant purification ceremony called ‘Melasti’. The day begins with prayers in the family temples followed by ‘pengrupukan’; where family members clang a series of loud objects (pots, pans, instruments) around their homes/compounds to chase away malevolent spirits. These spirits are represented by the ogoh-ogoh sculptures which will then be paraded, down the streets, from each individual Banjar at 3 pm towards town.

Then on Nyepi Day, the Balinese people will then spend the day fasting and resting in contemplation, meditation and refrain from all worldly and physical activities for 24 hours. They will also observe Catur Brata Penyepian or the four main rules.

 

These rules are:

  • Amati Geni which means no fire or no light.

  • Amati Karya which means no working or activity.

  • Amati Lelungan which means no travelling outside.

  • Amati Lelanguan which means no entertainment. 

All Hindu Balinese stay inside their homes, but they are not supposed to speak to each other, answer the telephone, receive guests, watch TV, listen to the radio or use any appliances.

Hotels are exempt from Nyepi rigorous practices but streets will be deserted with only a few pecalang, community security officers, ensuring that Nyepi is observed properly. Only emergency services and hospitals are allowed to operate as usual. All airports and ports are also closed for 24 hours with no flights arriving or departing on Nyepi. 

 

How to plan an event around Nyepi?

The first thing people who want to have an event in Bali during Nyepi should know is that you will not be allowed to have it on that day due to the rules, so it is advisable to either plan your event days before Nyepi or after Nyepi. Remember that every access to and from the island will be closed for 24 hours during the day. It applies to access via the airport and harbours to avoid lights from coming in.

If you travel to the northern part of the Island which is more muslim they do not observe nyepi. Other small islands a boat distance away if you prefer not to observe this holiday and required resources such as electricity and wifi.

 

Things to consider when planning an event around Nyepi Time?

All shops and businesses are required to close for 24 hours. 

However, if you want to experience Nyepi and have your event remember to consider the four rules they observe.

Quick Tips:

  • Stock up prior to Nyepi make sure to not only have necessities but emergency items at hand. (Most people shop the day before so if you do not like lines go two days in advance) Even in hotels most of the staff is off so you will be on your own to find food and snacks as all establishments are closed.
  • No transportation is allowed and most places close early the day before to prepare for the ceremony.  Meaning if you are gathering (which we advise against) you should aim to gather the night before sleep at the location and wake up together because you will not be able to leave the premises that you wake up in on that day. Enjoy the day, we have heard complaints by expats that are bothered by the fact wifi and electricity will be cut off (in some parts of the island this does happen, now it’s more if something goes down or shuts off it stays off). Rather plan ahead of time disconnect from electronics and enjoy this down detox time.

 

What Happens the Day After?

The day after Nyepi is called Ngembak Geni. After completing their day of restraint and purification people feel very happy and enjoy going out to visit family and friends to ask forgiveness for past mistakes and to express their gratitude and hopes for a bright new year ahead. On this day, Omed-omedan will take place, a unique ritual that originated from the Banjar Kaja Sesetan Village in Denpasar, also known as “The Kissing Ceremony”As with many Balinese traditions, the kissing ritual begins with participants praying together as a preliminary safety preparation.

Afterwards, the males and females separate into two groups facing each other on the main street. The kissing ritual commences with the signal of the Hindu leader, and the males pull the females, proceeding to kiss them while water is being poured over them

 

Nyepi environmental impact:

In 2019 alone, about 43.1 billion tons of CO2  (carbon dioxide) from human activities were emitted into the atmosphere. The emissions could form a giant “CO2 cube” measuring 30 km on each side. This means we’d theoretically have to plant 40 billion trees every year, then wait for decades to see any positive effect. 

  • The Balinese Hindu Day of Silence, Nyepi, reduces the island’s CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by up to 20,000 tons, This is equivalent to Greenhouse gas emissions from 45,021,573 Miles driven by an average passenger vehicle or to Greenhouse gas emissions avoided by 6,171 Tons of waste recycled instead of landfilled.
  • The no fuel consumption on Nyepi saves fuel up to 500.000 litres of diesel which is equivalent to $207,957. Then, there will be electricity savings, water, and other fuels up to 70 per cent, or equivalent to $277,689. 
  • Studies have also shown that each year, the level of sound caused by humans increases in the world’s oceans. This noise is from a host of sources, including shipping, military exercises, and oil and gas industry activity and disturbs marine life, including fish, sea turtles, invertebrates, and mammals. In Bali, the researchers deployed six acoustic recorders for a week and discovered a 6-decibel (dB) decrease in noise levels during the Day of Silence. They believe such a reduction is substantial enough to affect fish behaviour, including mating rituals.

 

Sustainability

Nyepi day and its rituals are to bring people together and maintain good relationships within society and has a huge contribution to saving the environment in this modern era. As there is no pollution at all and the closure of the power plants during the Nyepi day causes the sky to be really clean. Hence, in the evening of Nyepi day, the sky is full of stars which make it look stunning and rare to be seen on daily basis. . Then, followed by the freshest air you will ever feel in the morning after the Nyepi day. Due to its uniqueness, instead of being avoided, many tourists want to come to Bali and experience the Nyepi day.

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