What is Nyepi?
Contrary to several other cultures all around the world who celebrate the New Year with dynamic and sparkling festivities, the crowning point of the Balinese New Year 6 day celebration is a day dedicated to complete silence. On the 3rd day the entire island comes to a standstill, with no scheduled flights to or from the airport, no traffic on the streets, and all lights extinguished. It is a wonderful time to see the stars! This day is called Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” and falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of approximately equal duration. Nyepi is the most important and sacred Hindu holiday on Bali and is a general public holiday in the rest of Indonesia. Nyepi is the day the Hindu balinese dedicate to connecting more deeply with God, Hyang Widi Wasa through prayer, fasting and meditation, and through self introspection, evaluating values such as love, truth, patience, kindness and generosity.
The famous ogoh-ogoh parades, where Balinese men (and boys) carry scary creatures of varying sizes through the streets accompanied by noise and gamelan music happens on "Nyepi Eve", the evening of the second day after New Year. The ogah ogahs are used to scare away evil spirits from the island, and there is a myth that, after the boisterous and active celebrations of day 1 and day 2, the Island goes into hiding to protect itself from the evil spirits, fooling them into believing that Bali, enveloped in an atmosphere of complete tranquility and peace and darkness, is a deserted Island. This myth dates back to the mythical times of evil spirits, Gods, superheroes and witches. It is a deeply symbolic and fascinating festival of which to be part - a day filled with nothing but the sound of Bali's wild dogs barking, insects humming and uninterrupted calm. It is seen as a chance for the island and its people to rest and cleanse. In 2017 Nyepi eve falls on 28th March, with the day of silence being the 29th.
Nyepi and the Symbolism and Creativity Retreat
The Nyepi festival is a key part of this retreat. On Nyepi eve we will be out on the streets parading the ogah ogah that we will have made as a group, and taking it to the beach for a symbolic burning of the inner demons that we wish to banish from our lives.
The next day is the day of silence. While on the retreat at the Indies, all guests must support the Hindu beliefs relating to four strict restrictions on Nyepi Day. The day of silence lasts for 24 hours starting at sunrise (6am) on Wednesday 29th March until sunrise (6am) the next day on 30th March. the four main restrictions are:
1. Amati Geni – No fire or cooking allowed
2. Amati Karya - No working
3. Amati Lelungan - No travelling
4. Amati Lelanguan- No entertaining, music or noise, including TVs and radios, and no electric lights.
In harmony with our island hosts, we remain within the Indies estate without disturbing the surrounding community during these 24 hours. If we leave the villa complex, the local Banjar will escort us back to the villas.
In the evening, we extinguish the villa lights, and turn off any televisions and music in order to respect the local community honouring this tradition (tapa brata penyepian). Torches are supplied in each villa.
The day of Nyepi will be an opportunity for self reflection, including the Symbolism and Creativity workshop in the morning, plus opportunities for meditation and silence in the beautiful surroundings of the Indies estate.
There will be a skeleton staff still available at the villas, and cold buffets will be available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a privilege to be part of this ritualistic festival, and a spectacular way to witness symbolism and creativity alive and well in the modern world.