Hindu community in Bali celebrates Nyepi (Day of Silence) on March 31, 2014. Nyepi is a holy day celebrated every first date of the tenth month in Balinese lunar calendar or once a year (354 days). One day after new moon of the ninth month (Mar 30) is the end of Caka Year. Furthermore, after the new moon (Mar 31) is the Caka New Year or known as Nyepi. Celebration of Nyepi begins with melis, mekiyis or melasti procession usually carried out three days before the Nyepi. Destinations of this activity are the sources of water such as the sea, rivers, lakes and other springs considered to have sanctity.
Melasti procession signifies the cleanup of impurity on earth or universe (macrocosm) and human body (microcosm). In the Purana Bali Dwipa palm-leaf manuscript, it is mentioned that melasti is taking the essence of holy water for life in the ocean. Director of the Post Graduate Studies of the Hindu Dharma Institute (IHDN) of Denpasar, Dr. I Ketut Sumadi, said the meaning of melasti procession was to cleanse and purify the macrocosm and microcosm. “It purifies human self and mind to welcome the Nyepi celebration,” he said.
Implementation of the melasti procession was a purification process of the first stage. Meanwhile, the second one was through the Tawur Agung Kesanga or better known as the Pengerupukan Day. It was held one day before the Nyepi. Tawur Agung was carried out from the provincial, county, subdistrict up to the level of village and household. Tawur Agung Pengrupukan was held during the midday, right when the sun passed right over the head. The ceremony was usually held at the intersection, in the Bale Agung Temple courtyard or other places considered sacred. It was accompanied by the sounds of kulkul (wooden split drum), gong and bleganjur gamelan music. In the afternoon, it was implemented the mecaru procession of smaller scale at the household level.
The ceremony was also filled with the playing of traditional music like drum, gong and the ignition of torches and the spray of spices in the courtyard aiming to expel the negative auras in the courtyard. After that, it was followed by the parade of ogoh-ogoh around the village accompanied with the bleganjur gamelan, ignition of torch with frenzy cheering. The ogoh-ogoh or papier mâché demon was in a large statue figure. It was a symbol of Bhuta Kala figure existing in the universe and the characters in human beings that must be destroyed.
After the procession, the ogoh-ogoh was usually set on fire in the cemetery. This way was usually done at villages. However, in harmony with the development and advancement of technology, the ogoh-ogoh are contested and paraded in the heart of the city. The ogoh-ogoh winning the competition is awarded with a prize and then it is on display in front of the hamlet meeting hall, downtown or strategic places.
The day after Pengrupukan is called Nyepi. On the day, the Hindu society performs four kinds of abstinence known as the catur brata penyepian. “Catur brata penyepian signifies to inactivate all the activities outside the body and inside the body. Inactivating the activities in the body does not necessarily mean there is no activity at all, but it tends to be focused on controlling the negative minds and just concentrating on the power of the Creator, back to emptiness,” said Ketut Sumadi.
Nyepi or silent, explained Sumadi, as the Caka New Year was the starting or zero point of the life’s journey. With the silent state, we could empty the mind to do contemplation (self-evaluation) as had been done in previous years. From these circumstances, it would bring in new spirits, new ideas and new creativities. Catur brata penyepian performed by the Hindus consisted of the abstinence known as the amati geni, namely abstaining from the activities using fire. It included inactivating the fire of lust in the human self. With a pure and peaceful mind, the totality was focused to purify the fire within the self.
Amati karya was inactivating all the physical works. It included the activities of mind that always generated new desires. On the Nyepi Day, the mind was purified and directed to always think of the holiness (God) and to achieve the quality of self-improvement. Then, the amati lelanguan was inactivating the physical activities of traveling, especially traveling to the places to look for satisfaction of all the senses.
Meanwhile, the amati lelungan people are trying to stop the movement of mind that always roamed around and jumped from one object to another object. Although the physical body was at one place, the mind would continue to wander from one object to another. It never stopped like a crazy monkey as mentioned in the scripture Sarasamusccaya.
A temple priest of Dalem Sekebon Temple at Sibang village doubling as a Hinduism teacher at the SMAN 4 Denpasar high school, Nyoman Miarta Putra, said that through the concept of manacika parisudha in the four abstinences, the mind was directed to positive objects, tried to contemplate in order to get enlightenment. Thoughts were kept away from the entertainment or temporary earthly pleasures.
Meanwhile, through this amati lelanguan all the sensual enjoyment was eliminated. People tried to comfort themselves by mentioning the glory of God, spelling the holy mantras and read holy books. “The totality of work is used to ‘entertain’ the Lord through nama smaranam (remembering the Divine names) and to glorify His names,” said Jero Mangku Miarta. (BTN/putri)