Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Yes, there really is an island paradise. It’s right next door (a 19 hour bus/ferry/bus/mini bus ride) away from my island of Java. It’s Bali! Terraced green rice fields, Hindu temples at every home, and a simply enchanting festival every year – The Bali Day of Silence.
Here’s the Lonely Planet version that first enticed me into planning this trip:
The major festival for the Hindu Balinese is Nyepi – the end of the old year and the start of the new one.
In the weeks before Nyepi much work goes into the making of ogoh-ogoh – huge monster dolls with menacing fingers and frightening faces – and into the preparation of offerings and rituals that will purify the island in readiness for the New Year. The day before Nyepi, Tawar Agung Kesanga, is the “Day of Great Sacrifices”, with ceremonies held at town squares and sports grounds throughout the island. At about 4 pm villagers, all dressed up in traditional garb, gather in the center of the town playing music and offering gifts of food and flowers to the ogoh-ogoh then comes the ngrupuk – the great procession where the ogoh-ogoh figures are lifted on bamboo poles and carried through the streets to frighten away all the evil spirits. This is followed by prayers and speeches and then, with flaming torches and bonfires, the ogoh-ogoh are burnt and much revelry ensues.
The day of Nyepi itself officially lasts for 24 hours from sunrise, and is one of complete inactivity so when the evil spirits descend they decide that Bali is uninhabited and leave the island alone for another year. All human activity stops – all shops, bars and restaurants close, no-one is allowed to leave their homes and foreigners must stay in their hotels. Bali International Airport is closed down. If you should wander off the pecalang (village police) will politely but firmly send you home. No fires are permitted and at night all buildings must be black out.
My sister was not able to join me but I had a great time with two fellow PCV’s Jay and Nicole – who took most of the pictures. They celebrated their joint St. Patrick’s Day birthday with green beer. We had fabulous food including rice and chicken wrapped in a banana leaf, burritos, pizza and fresh coconut in the shell!
Don't worry about the food, flowers and gifts placed for the Gods - they immediately absorb the essence of the offerings so all dogs who snack later are only getting leftovers.
Nicole and I wore sarongs every time we entered a temple. Jay was required to wear the Hindu head gear and a sarong when we attended the temple ceremonies.
You can see 4 people on one motorcycle, but the most I've seen so far is 5. Motorcycle duck transport is fairly common in Indonesia.
It took me 4 hours to download these pictures. I really want to show Americans what a wonderful adventure Bali can be. So come to Bali for Nyepi!
Next year it’s March 12th.