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Directory Home> Bali Art and Culture> Nyepi
 
NYEPI "QUIET / SILENCE" DAY - BALINESE NEW YEAR "TAHUN CAKA"
 
The day of Silence is a symbolic replay of these philosophical principles. At the beginning of the year, the world is "clean". The previous days, all the effigies of the gods from all the village temples have been taken to the river in long and colorful ceremonies. There they have been bathed by the Neptunus of Balinese lore, the god Baruna, before being taken back to residence in their shrines of origin. The day before Nyepi, all villages have also held a large exorcist ceremony at the main village crossroad, the meeting place of the demons. And, at night all the demons of the Bali world were let loose on the roads in a carnival of fantastic monsters, the Ogoh-ogoh.

The parade is held all over Bali after sunset. All the banjar neighborhoods and hundreds of youth associations make their own Ogoh-ogoh monsters. Some are giants from the classical Balinese lore, while others are guitarists, bikers or even AIDS microbes. All with fangs, bulging eyes and scary hair, illuminated by torches and with the accompaniment of the most demonic gamelan music (bleganjur) of the Balinese repertoire. They surge suddenly by the hundreds from every street, some more "horrible" than the others; each carried on the shoulder of four to thirty youths, jerking this way or that way so as to give the impression of a dance, or suddenly turning in a circle, much to the fascination of the spectators. And, believe it, this is not a small "procession": it lasts for three to four hours, as if Bali has an inexhaustible pool of demons. No more than its gods and goddesses for sure.

Thus, on Silence day, the world is clean and everything starts anew, with Man showing his symbolic control over himself and the "force" of the World. Hence the mandatory religious prohibitions of a mati lelanguan (no pleasure), a mati lelungan (no journey), a mati geni (no fire), and a mati karya (no work).
 
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