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5 Things You Might Not Know about Nyepi in Bali

Nyepi Day, or the day of silence in Bali this year falls on March 31st, or exactly on the last date of the month. Balinese Hindu will flock beaches days before the day to clean the earth with offerings and prayers, while at night, the ogoh-ogoh parade will live up and ignite the island with noise and glorious shouts before a total silence the next day. It’s an observance that has been known by many people around the world. Today, in the spirit of welcoming Nyepi, we have noted 5 things that you might not know about this Balinese New Year celebration. These might surprise you.

1. A Village in Bali Celebrates Nyepi, Twice

(The jorogan procession on Nyepi Kasa in Buahan Village. Photo credit: Anggara Mahendra)

In Buahan Village, Payangan, Gianyar regency, people do not only observe Nyepi for one time in a year, instead they observe it twice. Besides Nyepi Day, they also have Nyepi Kasa, a silent day that is only observed by people in this village on the first month of the Balinese calendar (4 months after the regular Nyepi Day) in which “kasa” means “first’”, hence the name of “Nyepi Kasa”.

Nyepi Kasa began centuries ago when the village suffered from deadly disease (known locally as gerubug). So, people in the village prayed to Gods to discontinue the plague until one villager finally gained a holy revelation and asserted that the village must conduct a silent day (Nyepi) on the first month of the Balinese calendar.

On Nyepi Kasa, the village is the only area that is silent in the island. No vehicles, no lights in sight, and the road to Kintamani that passes through this village will be closed down for a day. Unlike the regular Nyepi Day, this Nyepi Kasa has unique procession held a day before the silent day. In the morning there is a sacrifice of a calf in which the calf will be set free to walk but then slowly it will be stabbed until it bleeds and dies. The meat will be shared to all householders in the village. In the afternoon, there is a procession named, jorogan, in which women scramble and thrust at each other to grab the offerings that have been devoted by the Hindu priest. Although it sounds like a competition, they all will end up with laughter. To close the ritual, at night, ogoh-ogoh parade is held where it rounds the village for three times.

2. A Village in Bali Doesn’t Celebrate Nyepi, At All

Tenganan Village
(Traditional house in Tenganan Village. Photo credit: Robin Nichols)

When most parts in Bali refrain physical activity on Nyepi Day, there’s actually one village in Bali that does not observe the day, at all. It’s Tenganan Village in Karangasem regency.
Tenganan is an ancient village where Bali Aga (Bali’s original tribe) lives. Bali Aga does not have the influence of Majapahit kingdom like most part of Bali, therefore, beside Nyepi, the village also doesn’t celebrate Galungan and Kuningan, two other most celebrated festival in the island that are originally brought by Majapahit kingdom. On the Nyepi Day, people in Tenganan will still be like in their usual day with lights on, but they still respect others Balinese who observe the day by not doing activity outside the village.

With that rarity, the village is often visited by tourists who want to know closer about their daily life such as their traditional houses and their strict policy that visitors must leave when the village gates are sealed each evening. Furthermore, Tenganan people respect their village rules, known as awig-awig, where marriage can be only among those within the village. That makes a villager who marries outside the village descendants will be not considered as the village native anymore. Their burial procession is also dissimilar to most Balinese Hindu. The dead man must be buried the day when they died, unlike most Balinese who seek certain date to precede burial. They also don’t carry out ngaben, the Balinese cremation ceremony.

3. A Village in Bali Celebrates Nyepi with a Mass Kissing Ritual

Omed-Omedan Ritual
(People are cheering over two teenagers who are snatching kiss during omed-omedan procession in Sesetan Village, Denpasar. Photo credit: Henry Sudarman)

Yes, you read it right. A mass kissing ritual before Nyepi Day can be witnessed at Banjar Kaja, Sesetan Village, in Denpasar. It’s a century old ritual that can only be found in the village, where the village natives from 17 to 30 years old will gather on the village’s main road. Omed-omedan came from the word ‘omed’ which means ‘pull’, indicates how the event conducted.

Omed-omedan is originated about century ago when there was a strange incident in the village in which two pigs, male and female, strangely fighting in the village. That was believed to be a sign of negativity and believed if the ritual abstains in a year, a tragedy will happen. The ritual symbolizes a ceremony for the youths to express their joy, achieving positivity.

The ritual begins with prayer lead by Hindu priest. Participants will be separated into two groups; male and female. When the baleganjur troop starts playing, the Hindu leader is ready to signal the ritual. Both groups will meet in rush in the middle. The male group occasionally pulls the girls and immediately tries to snatch a kiss. They mostly will get to kiss on the cheek but for the lucky one, or the brave one, sometimes could even snatch a kiss on the lips. They all will end up wet as the people around them will throw water above the participants. Uniquely, the aftermath of this ritual not only ends until that. Sometimes, they end up as lovers, event go on into marriages in real life.

4. Ogoh-Ogoh is Only 30 Years Old

Ogoh-Ogoh Parade
(Ogoh-ogoh parade in the night before the Nyepi day. Photo credit: ogiegxc)

According to the inscription of Trunyan A, Nyepi has been observed since 8 BC, making it an old tradition that long lasts until today. Ogoh-Ogoh (the huge paper mache) has very strong relation with the tradition of Nyepi in Bali. But did you know, although Nyepi is already centuries old, ogoh-ogoh is only 30 years old?

Yes, the huge paper mache that is inspired by demons with those scary looks firstly appeared in early 1980s, exactly in 1983. It’s at the time when Indonesian government declared Nyepi as a national holiday. The name of ogoh-ogoh was not originally used; instead people in Bali called it as ‘bhuta’ due to it resembles the looks of demons in Balinese Hindu beliefs. Afterward, the name ogoh-ogoh became popular with more people mentioned it as it derived from ‘ogah-ogah’ which means wiggling or shaking, represents how them are paraded. The rise of ogoh-ogoh in Bali came after it was featured on the 12th Bali Arts Festival where all eight regencies in Bali were invited to showcase their creation. Until then, ogoh-ogoh parade has now become a routine on Nyepi Day.

5. The Meaning of the Pecalang’s Uniform

(A group of pecalangs guards Nyepi day to secure the observance goes well. Photo credit: Yesy)

Pecalang is the Balinese traditional guards who are created to maintain the security of each village in Bali, especially during Nyepi. Each village has its own pecalangs who will keep the security for the entire Nyepi to be safe. People can easily identify a pecalang by their uniform; a sarong (chessboards motif), white shirt, a black waistcoat, a head cloth (known as ‘udeng’) and sometimes a keris (dagger) affixed on the waist. It’s not a mere uniform, instead all of those attributes has each own meaning. The chessboards motif on the sarong for example, with white and black represents the opposition of good and devil in which both bearing into balance and harmony. The sarong is also can be seen on any statues of the gate temples in Bali, which loosely symbolizes guardian. The keris represents the readiness of the guards for any possible condition, in peaceful approach, rather than aggressive. As a whole it reflects that a pecalang main task is not only to control the security of the street during Nyepi but also keeping it silent and peaceful.

So how did you fare? Did you already know all these 5 trivia? Or do you know others things that are not known by many about Nyepi in Bali? Let’s share in the comment section!

More about Nyepi:
Nyepi and its restrictions (Catur Bratha Penyepian)
Nyepi Package for 2014


Experience the Balinese New Year (Nyepi) at The Bene Hotel

In the world history, it may only Bali that celebrates its new year by stopping its entire activity in a day full. There is no lavish party on celebrating a new year; instead it’s in total silence for 24 hours. No vehicles are allowed on the road, no activities, and no lights in the night which makes the island scarcely dark for one night. It’s a one of a kind experience.

The series of Nyepi observance runs for three days with distinct sacred rituals, from offerings to huge papier-mache parade (known as ogoh-ogoh). For Balinese Hindu, it’s a day of self introspection to reflect on values, such as humanity, love, patience, and kindness, while on the other hand it also sends a lovely tribute to energy saving and global warming in the global world.

This year, Nyepi falls on March 31st 2014 and we invite you to experience the tranquility of this day with us. We have special Nyepi packages for couple at our superior and deluxe room, and for family, a special package is arranged at our royal suite room. The packages include benefits of free breakfast, free one time lunch, and dinner on the Nyepi day.

Let’s enjoy the serene side of Bali and share the remarkable holy moment at The Bene Hotel.

Nyepi Package 2014


Valentine of Bali: The Legend of Jayaprana and Layonsari

Jayaprana Grave(The steep concrete onto the gravesite of Jayaprana and Layonsari in Teluk Terima. Wild plantation can be seen on the right and left side. Photo credit: Yunaidi Joepoet)

It’s Valentine’s day, one of a long live popular tradition celebrated by people around the world. Bali is no exception, as many travelers love to spend their romantic time, like a honeymoon in Bali with their beloved one in this beautiful island. But, have any of you heard a local story that suits for the day? Well, you might have read or heard the popular story from William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, which was well known as a romantic story and even a symbol of true love albeit its tragic ending. Here, in Bali, there’s a similar legend about a tragic true love story which is also believed to be truly happened some centuries ago. The story is often compared as the Balinese version of Romeo and Juliet.

It’s the story of Jayaprana. A boy who lived in a small kingdom named Kalianget (now, a village in Buleleng). Once upon a time, the entire kingdom was plagued by a deadly disease that killed people in the kingdom along with the king’s children. Jayaprana was then found and adopted by the King of Kalianget after he saw the boy mourned over the loss of his parents in the village. Long story short, he was raised as a king’s son, where he grew as an attractive adult. He was still very down to earth and befriended little people. On one lovely day, he met a beautiful girl who sells flowers at the local market, named Layonsari. He fell in love with her at the first sight, so did her. Soon after, in their burning romance, they decided to unite their love in a marriage. The King was happy and agreed. He threw a big and glorious wedding ceremony for his son.

It was totally unexpected that after the marriage of his son, the King was so besotted by the beauty of Layonsari that he realized he slowly fell in love with her. The feeling grew very strong, and it led to a vicious decision that the King had to get rid of Jayaprana to make a room for him to get Layonsari. With his scheming plan, the King then commanded Jayaprana to lead the troops to the forest near the sea to extrude some pirates who came to disturb the peace in the kingdom. He ordered Patih Sawung Galing to accompany him, whom the king secretly commanded to kill Jayaprana.

In the woods, Patih Sawung Galing tried to kill Jayaprana in a fight with every single possible way. But, Jayaprana was immune to any weapons and to every deadly effort that Patih Sawung Galing tried to do to him. Yet, Jayaprana still confused, then asked him as to why Patih Sawung Galing tried to kill him. Patih Sawung Galing finally told everything about the King’s plan to posses Layonsari in any possible way, which was the main reason that Patih Sawung Galing has to kill him, as per King’s order. Jayaprana was immediately shocked and sad that his father planned to betray and kill him. However, his loyalty to his father led Jayaprana to remove all the flowers in his head and also he gave up his weapon, a keris, to Patih Sawung Galing. Both were amulet and sacred weaponry that made him immune to any injuries. Patih Sawung Galing then stabbed him with the keris. Miraculously, the dead body of Jayaprana was spreading out a fragrant scent throughout the forest. It leads the entire living animal in the woods to cry and mourn over him. Except for a white lion which then angrily rushed and attacked Patih Sawung Galing to death.

The news of the King’s setup and the death of Jayaprana and Patih Sawung Galing were narrated by the remaining troops to Kalianget. Heard by Layonsari, she was suddenly felt terribly horrified and sick by the king’s betrayal to Jayaprana. The King still chased her and forced her to marry him, which Layonsari could not approve. She then decided to kill herself. Just like Jayaprana, her corpse also has a fragrant scent. The body was then sent to forest by the people of Kalianget who wanted to bury her near her true love and beloved husband, Jayaprana. Until today, the gravesite was known as a temple and familiarly known by Balinese as Pura Teluk Terima.

The story of Jayaprana and Layonsari is not just a story about romance, but also can be seen as a portrait of greed and betrayal that leads to a tragedy. The ironic loyalty that Jayaprana showed to his father and the faithfulness of Layonsari to her husband are also things that are interesting to be thought.

The original name of Layonsari was actually unknown. People named the Jayaprana’s wife as Layonsari after the word ‘layon’ which means ‘dead body’ and ‘sari’ which means ‘fragrant scent’. It referred to how her corpse spreads out fragrant scent when it was sent to the forest.

Factual evidence: Most of Balinese people believe that this is a true story although Balinese historians have not found any evidence to prove it, except the existence of the grave.

The kingdom: Kalianget is now a small village with mountain and beaches in the northern part of Bali, Buleleng Regency, where their livelihoods are mostly farmers (rice and grapes) and fisherman.

The gravesite: Teluk Terima, which means ‘The Bay of Acceptance’, is the place where the grave is located and has been visited by people. The gravesite has been used as a public temple for the last 20 years; with the main grave are the Jayaprana and Layonsari, and a temple dedicated to Patih Sawung Galing on the outside.

How to Get There and Nearby Attractions:
The gravesite is in the area of Sumber Klampok Village which can be reached around 4 hours driving from your villa in Seminyak, through the Bedugul route. The Jayaprana gravesite is set on the hill in West Bali National Park where people have to climb up the steep concrete steps from the south side of the main road. It is 1 kilometer from the port of Labuhan Lalang which leads the way to visit Menjangan Island. From here, you can see the Sea, Menjangan Island, and Mountains of Eastern Java.
Valentine’s Day is approaching. Have you planned anything special or new for the day? Maybe you hardly come up with an idea to please your loved one. But, don’t worry. Love will always find its beautiful way. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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