Yesterday there must have been 100 incense sticks sending their dancing plumes into the air around our home. The fragrant softness that is now familiar brings a sense of calm energy and reflection in the space, causing you to inhale the aroma and enjoy it fully. The offerings, each one made by hand from local trees and plants, are carefully placed upon our home alters, the entry ways and the functional elements of our home.
The home cleansing has begun in anticipation of a very special day in Bali – Nyepi.
What is Nyepi in Bali?
Nyepi is the day where all of Bali is silent. No one is allowed to leave their home, there is security in the streets to make sure people respect the day and stay inside the family compounds and villas – locals and foreigners alike. There are no motorbikes roaring down the path, no music, minimal electricity usage. There are no stores open. On Nyepi there are no flights into or out of Bali. On this day, the entire island goes into reflection and meditation, shutting down everything.
There is only silence.
The silence breeds introspection, and that is it’s intention.
Nyepi is a day to make and keep the balance of nature. A day to reflect on the values that you want to cultivate: kindness, respect, patience and love.
We woke up this morning to the rather loud sounds of cicadas and birds and nothing else. Nyepi begins the Balinese new year and it only happens in Bali. The culture combination of the Balinese, Hindu and Chinese have created this new year celebration. The Balinese New Year is 1935 this year.
It may be silent today, but last night was a different story.
The Ogoh Ogoh
For months communities have organized, donated money and time to build their village “ogoh ogoh” – a beast like creature paraded around the night before Nyepi to scare away the bad spirits. Sometimes more masculine, sometimes overtly feminine, the ogoh ogoh resembles a human with animalistic tendencies. The exaggerations of certain features are intriguing.
Vibrant red tongues that resemble true blood.
Round, full bellied ogoh ogohs that robustly take up space in the air.
Action-like figures that are ready to stomp and dance to the beat of the music.
The night is full of energy and organization as people crowd the streets to witness months of creativity dance around.
Our first Nyepi in Ubud
This is our first Nyepi in Bali. We went to dinner early with friends and happened upon a great spot where we were able to see the ogoh ogohs being carried to their staging ground, the central soccer field in downtown Ubud. Intermittently, as we ate, we dashed out to the street to watch the pre-parade.
Each ogoh ogoh is carried by a crowd of people holding onto a bamboo platform. Men carry the larger ogoh ogohs, but being a community event, the children are involved by carrying smaller ogoh ogohs.
We’re all fascinated by the spirit and energy that surrounds. Miss I, 2 years old, exclaimed in the fullest while circling her arms in the air
Mama, THIS is AMAZING!
And it was. To be here, in the one place in the world where this ceremony takes place, was amazing.
The streets were full, but they won’t be tomorrow.