NYEPI DAY EYEWITNESS (Once a Year on March)
The Balinese New Year is marked with Nyepi Day.
"Nyepi" means silence, and Nyepi Day is lterally that: Silent Day.
It is not only one of the things that make Bali special, it is also one of the most unique holidays in the world.
The celebration is based on the Saka calendar, a lunar calendar brought from south India to Indonesia around 465AD.
The Saka year is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar. While the Balinese follow the Saka calendar for religious purposes, they have adopted the Gregorian calendar for business and government purposes.
This celebration usually falls in March or April The Balinese observe the holiday in various ways, including remaining in their homes for 24 hours, abstaining from lighting fires, sex and work and enforcing strict rules against noise and displays of light throughout the island.
It's amazing; the island goes totally silent and Nyepi night is completely dark - uninterrupted by any lights, not even candles.
The main purpose of the Nyepi Day ceremonies is to pray to God (Hyang Widhi Wasa) to keep this world in harmony and for self introspection on values. Related rites before the Nyepi Day (part of Nyepi):
MEKIIS or MELASTI
Each village in Bali brings effigies of God and temple beings in a long and colorful procession to the beach, spring or river accompanied by the gamelan orchestra. Once they arrive at the final destination, there will be a communal prayer toward the ocean. The philosophy of this particular Melasti is to clean all impure things of human (buana alit) as well the universe (buana agung).
This rites is usually held three or four days before the Nyepi Day.
TAWUR KESANGA AND CARU
This ritual is held one day before the Nyepi day. In each of the village they will sacrifice chickens, duck, dog, goat or even a cow or buffalo. This ritual symbolizes protection from evil, and the negative forces of human and the universe.
The procession of Ogoh-Ogoh through the streets. Ogoh-Ogoh are giant monster dolls symbolizing evil.
The dolls take weeks to build and are constructed with bamboo frames skinned with sacks and painted brightly. The Ogoh-ogoh carnival is held at the main village cross road, the meeting place of demons. This carnival is held all over Bali following sunset. Gamelan music accompanies the ceremony.
Later in the evening, the Hindus celebrate Ngerupuk, making noises, and burning the Ogoh-ogoh in order to get the evil spirits out of their lives. In Nyepi day itself, everybody in Bali remains at home (including non-Hindus, foreigners and visitors!). There will be a local officer called "Pecalang" on duty to ensure everybody obeys the prohibitions.
If you wish to witness the celebration, be in Bali the day before because the Airport will close on Nyepi Day.
And if you wish to see the Mekiis and Tawur Kesanga or Ogoh-Ogoh, you should plan to arrive in Bali 3 to 4 days before Nyepi Day.
NGABEN - CREMATION CEREMONY
Ngaben is a way of cremating human body in funeral ceremony for Balinese Hinduism.
So Ngaben should not be a tourism object or a comodity for tourism, actually. Because, as a funeral ceremony, it is not worth of becoming it as a performance at all.
We don't want to pray to the God so that there are many people die, and we can offer this package to you!
The philosophy Ngaben is not identical with cremation. Ngaben has a wider and complicated understanding than just cremating a human body. Beginning with a belief of Hindu the five basic elements which compose anything in the universe. The five unit elements is called Panca Maha Buta which consists of soil, water, ether, wind and fire. And a human body is composed by these elements. At the end of a human life, his body should be extracted so every element could back to its original source as soon as possible. Spiritually this process, which is known as Ngaben or cremation, is in tented to support the soul of the died man in getting paradise. And that is another belief behind this process. When the process of firing the body in the cemetery finished, the dust as the result of cremation will be taken and bring to the sea and blow it out there. This is a symbolic of unifying the creation (human, the dust) and his Creator (the God, the sea). Some parts of the dust will bring back to home and put in the family temple. When the process of making the soul of the died body holy, all the process of Ngaben will complete. After that, all his ancestors will worship to the holy soul for safety, welfare, and happiness.
So the belief continue, and the family does not loose one or more of their members because of death. They still live together, but at different place and dimension. Some time this will take more than a day, usually 12 days.
From this very short story you know that cremation, or firing the body in the cemetery, is not the point or the most important thing or the only one process in Ngaben ceremony. It's just a part of a number of processes.
Cremating the Body, this process will be done in a local cemetery.
The process begin with putting the body on a wooden sarcophagus, then bring it and put it down on a 'bade' (a high special artistic tower for this occasion). The bade is very weight and made from bamboo, wood and paper.
The bade containing sarcophagus (and the body inside) then are carried out by hundreds of villagers and its family to the cemetery. This procession is very attractive and fascinating. At every cross road they breakthrough the bade will be rotated three times before keeping on the cemetery. Sometime when the bade is rotating some people will go down to the river (if any) and wash the bade with water of the river. Reaching the cemetery, again the bade will be rotated three time before putting it down and getting the sarcophagus down from the bade. After being worship to the God, a priest will lead the cremation process. And the time is coming, the bade and the body is fired to complete the ceremony ....
The people around you are most villagers. Please try to honor the died man (who are being cremated) and be nice with the people. They like visitors with familiar attitude. Usually anyone can take pictures at the ceremony.
But if someone doesn't permit, please obey him.
Cockfights, which in Balinese are known as tajen, meklecan or ngadu, are required at temple and purification (mecaru) ceremonies.
The Tabuh Rah ritual to expel evil spirits always has a cockfight to spill the blood. Tabuh Rah literally means pouring blood. There are ancient texts disclosing that the ritual has existed for centuries. It is mentioned in the Batur Bang Inscriptions I from the year 933 and the Batuan Inscription from the year 944 (on the Balinese calendar). The blood of the loser spills on the ground, an offering to the evil spirits. Three cockfights are necessary for this purpose. Only men participate. Women do not even watch.
Men travel to cockfights with their roosters. They sit in a circle in the wantilan or an open area. Women sell lawar (mixed vegetables and meat), grilled pork, chicken satay, snacks and colourful drinks.
Each fight is treated equally and, as soon as one fight ends, men look for a suitable match for the next. They try to match cocks of equal ability for a good fight. The fight should be unpredictable. If there is an imbalance, the spur on the stronger bird is adjusted slightly to give him a handicap.
The expert spur affixers affix the spurs. The sharp steel spurs, called taji, are single blades, about four or five inches long, tied around the leg with string. Spurs are sharpened only at eclipses and during a dark moon and should not be seen by women. The word for cockfight, tajen, comes from tajian, the taji being the blade.
Once done the cocks are placed on the ground in the middle of the ring. The timekeeper sits at a desk on the right hand corner. He pierces a coconut with a small hole and puts it in a bucket of water. It takes about 21 seconds to sink. At the start and end he beats a kulkul, a slit drum. During this time of 21 seconds the cocks must be left alone. If they have not fought, they can be picked up and encouraged.
There are two circles of betting: the official one with bets in the range of 20 to 300 thousand rupiahs where the winner doubles the money remitting 10% to the organizer/temple, and one-to-one betting with negotiable wagers and odds. As the fight commences, the frenzied audience call the expected winner by the colour of its plumage and show the amount they wish to bet on it using fingers. Bets, called in defunct Dutch ringgits (but paid in rupiahs), are settled in cash quickly after the match and with no arguments.
The fights are mercifully quick, typically ending in the decease of one or both animals from injuries.
The owner of the winning cock gets the body of the loser...