Every religion or culture in the world has its own way to define and celebrate its new year. For example, the Chinese have the Imlek year and they celebrate it as “Gong Xi Fat Choy,” which means, “Chinese New Year gift.” The Muslims have their Muharam year and they go to Masjid to pray. In Indonesia, Nyepi is a religious observance for Hindus and it is a very unique ceremony. Nyepi is derived from the word sepi, which means silent. I still remember how quiet it was in Bali on the day of Nyepi, since there are no activities on that particular day. Bali is the main island where people go to celebrate Nyepi, because 80% of the population is Hindu. However, other Hindus who do not live in Bali still commemorate Nyepi. Out of all the places in Indonesia, Bali is the only place where people do not participate in activities throughout the day. The Balinese Hindus do not celebrate the New Year with a lavish party; instead, they celebrate the coming of the New Year with meditation that starts before sunrise and lasts until sunset (Putu, 2002).
Two or three days before Nyepi, Hindus perform ritual cleansing to sanitize themselves and nature with Melasti or Melis, therefore it is called Melasti. They wear traditional attire, carry long-poled umbrellas and march to the sea. This occasion is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi/Vishnu-Devas-Bataras, one of the gods (Putu, 2002). Melasti takes place at the beaches in Bali in order to respect the gods as the owners of land and sea. In this ritual, women carry fruits, flowers and sweet cakes to offer, while the men carry effigies, called Barong. Barong is a symbol for them to sense the gods’ presence. Upon their arrival at the ocean, the pendada (leader of the ritual) prays and rings...
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...y the Nyepi is extraordinary. Other than Barong, an effigy called Ogoh ogoh is also brought to the sea to be cleansed on the day of Melasti. Ogoh ogoh is the symbol of devil and Barong is the symbol of kindness. Different than Barong, Ogoh ogoh is burned and buried after it has been purified, whereas Barong is kept in a temple (Antara Bali, 2010). There are copious rituals that Hindus perform before Nyepi. However, Melasti is the main ritual that they always perform each year since Nyepi is an idea of purification.
Abhilash. "Melasti during Nyepi – the Balinese New Year." Web log post. Hindu Blog. Google, 13 Mar.
2010. Web. 4 Apr. 2010.
Putu, Arnawa. Bali Driver - Tour Guide. 2002. Web. 4 Apr. 2010.
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