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Nyepi: Ogoh-Ogoh & the Day of Silence

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Lucky us! We landed in Bali just prior to Nyepi, or “Day of Silence” commemorated every Isaawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar. This is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated here as a day of silence, fasting and meditation and the day after Nyepi is celebrated as New Year. The day before the Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature.

Devout Hindu Balinese villages usually make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues (once made of bamboo and paper but now the majority are skillfully carved styrofoam) symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits.

After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which once involved burning the ogoh-ogoh but these days they may be destroyed in other ways to avoid burning the styrofoam; sometimes they are even sold to art collectors who ship them to other countries. Then, for 24 hours, from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, EVERYTHING STOPS! Even the airport shuts down.

Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection so anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating. Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. Fortunately, tourists and expats aren’t as restricted in their activities but they too are banned from the streets.

On the day after Nyepi, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.

Chris and I spent the day before Nyepi buzzing around Bali on our motobike checking out as many ogoh-ogohs as we could. In one village we happened upon an amazing ceremony taking place right out on the street next to a temple. No one seemed to mind a couple of “farangs” hanging around taking photos.

Chris made a slide show (see below) of some of the highlights of this magical time in Bali that we had the good fortune to experience.You can also view our friend Dave Trevelayn’s video from last year’s Nyepi here. Dave’s irreverent book about Ubud, Bali, “The Monster That Ate Ubud” is available on Amazon here.


Care to learn more about Nyepi? click here.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Jan Dean #

    Love the slide show you guys. You must be coming home.
    Jannie XOX

    April 15, 2013

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