Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nypei... A Day of Silence in Bali

I had read about Nypei before I arrived in Bali but had forgotten about this custom, upon my arrival I was quickly reminded. As I was driven from the airport to Ubud I kept seeing giant statue like creatures that were for the most part half naked. I wondered to myself what these were before being told that I would be here for Nypei and these were the ogoh ogohs! 

Nypei is the celebration of the Balinese New Year and was celebrated today on March 12th this year. Last night, a parade was held of ogoh ogohs carried by the children of Ubud village. The ogoh ogohs are made to represent the bad spirits and the parade is held to thank these spirits for their help in the past year but asking them to please go away for the next year. After the parade, the ogoh ogohs are burned as an extra precaution to rid the year of any evil doings. 

The day after, the whole nation of Bali goes silent to trick the spirits into thinking the island is now deserted and there is no one to haunt. It is also used as a day of reflection and contemplation. Everyone is to remain at their homes and quiet. Electricity is not to be used (luckily my homestay didn't adhere to this completely and I had WiFi) and no work is to be done. I had to gather up water and snacks yesterday to prepare for the day.  I have been at my homestay all day and if I was found on the streets I would be jailed. The airport even shuts down for the day. Tomorrow, the Balinese will go to family and friend's homes to ask forgiveness for any of the prior year's wrongdoings. 

Nypei is a wonderful holiday to experience in Bali. Again, when you visit this country you can't help but be amazed and intrigued by the observance and love of the Balinese. Think of the United States trying to enact such a holiday. Instead we spend our new year drinking as much as we can, feeling like crap the next day, eating everything in site, and making empty promises. 

As a traveler, once could be annoyed to be shut in all day but I tried to embrace the spirit of the day and used some of the day for contemplation to look back on the year and where my journey has brought me. One thing that I have struggled with while I have been here is the fact that I wouldn't be here in Bali attending this training if it weren't for Matt's passing. It is truly the yin of my yang. At times I have even found myself angry in my sweaty little room missing my comfy condo in Chicago snuggled up with Matt and Lila knowing I am really here for only one reason. I have had fleeting moments of these thoughts but mostly it makes me even more appreciative of the fact that I am here understanding what I had to go through to get here. 

Check out some pics of the Ogoh Ogohs below and of the children carrying them... if these don't scare away the evil spirits, I don't know what will! 



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