Preparing for Nyepi in Bali

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.

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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.

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Vibrant red tongues that resemble true blood.

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Round, full bellied ogoh ogohs that robustly take up space in the air.

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Action-like figures that are ready to stomp and dance to the beat of the music.

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Boobs and testicles! Anatomically correct and decorated beings.DSC03073DSC03101

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.
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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.

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The towering ogoh ogohs needed to have the power lines pushed up by long bamboo poles. We watched the crowd look up in anticipation to see how the ogoh ogoh would dance through the power lines.

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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.

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We strolled to the soccer field to watch the beginning of the parade. The night sky was filled with stars and the black backdrop made the ogoh ogohs appears even more majestic and scary.

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We watched. Miss I learned the “I love you” symbol from our friend, Lucas. How appropriate for Nyepi day tomorrow.

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And we ran into Jero, our beautiful nanny, with her husband and son.
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I marveled at the Balinese ceremony dress.

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And we couldn’t help becoming part of the parade ourselves.

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The streets were full, but they won’t be tomorrow.

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5 Responses to “Preparing for Nyepi in Bali”

  1. Mary March 12, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Very cool, one of my favorite aspects of travel is cultural festivals. So much I never knew:)

  2. Living Outside of the Box March 12, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Wow–yes! How fortunate to be there, in the one place, to experience that amazing celebration! I love the photo of Miss I with your friend…beautiful! What a night to remember!

  3. Amy @WorldschoolAdventures March 14, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    Wow! I love all the costumes! There were not any costumes of the Ogoh Ogoh parade we went to.

  4. Sarah March 16, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Love this! You are becoming quite the photographer, Miss S!

  5. Rachel Denning April 2, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    This is great! I was just learning about nyepi from Novica.com. Beautiful photos and such cool experiences (so different from the Latin culture that we’re used to over here).

    I love the new site design too!

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