Balinese Silent Day approaches and so do the Ogoh Ogoh (monsters)

Tomorrow Bali celebrates its New Year as a Silent Day called ‘Nyepi’ .

However, the celebrations start today and, by contrast, today is called ‘noisy day’ – and for good reason!

For weeks the Balinese youth have been making giant ‘Ogoh Ogoh’ out of bamboo frames covered in paper mache and then decorated to look like incredibly evil monsters called ‘Ogoh Ogoh’ (actually these pics are from last year).

Ogoh-Ogoh

Many noisy young men then parade the Ogoh Ogoh through the streets, from the palace to the football field, on bamboo poles, to the accompaniment of traditional music. The carnival atmosphere is complete with the firing of bamboo canons, the loud beating of drums and a colourful firework display in the evening.

Then, in the dark of the night, the Ogoh Ogoh are carried to the cemetery, which might be in the middle of the forest, and burnt. The burning is a symbolic gesture to neutralise the evil spirits contained within the Ogoh Ogoh and it heralds in Nyepi, the Balinese New Year.

Nyepi is the opposite, it’s a day of silence – island wide silence.  The airport and seaports are closed, no vehicles or pedestrians are allowed on the street, no work is done, no fire (that includes lights or power for laptops/tvs etc) and no food is made.  However, there are some allowances for tourists and food can be prepared the day beforehand also, of course, emergencies are still dealt with.

The thinking is that, after the burning of the Ogoh Ogoh, the bad spirits will not bother to return the next day if all is quiet and in darkness.  Others say the spirits do return, but as good spirits.

In practice, Nyepi/Silent Day, is an inward looking day full of contemplation, meditation and relaxation.  Talking is allowed, so maybe the word ‘silent’ is a tad misleading.  However, just think, if there is no traffic noise, no machinery or generator hums, no television, radio or stereos then it is as near to silence as you are ever likely to get – island wide.

Regardless of the name western styled name for Nyepi, the idea of having such a ‘green’ day, where absolutely minimum power is used, certainly appeals to me (not that it is done specifically as a green day – that’s just a great by-product).

In fact, environmentalists are lobbying the United Nations for a World Silent Day aimed at reducing the impact of global warming.

They suggest a four hour period from 10am to 2pm across the world’s 25 time zones in which people do not use vehicles, electricity or electronic equipment including computers, televisions and telephones.

Read the full article, here.

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