Nyepi, or the Day of Silence, is the Balinese new year, and unlike our western new year celebration, Nyepi means that you should be quiet and meditate all day. The airport on Bali is closed, no lights or fires are allowed and the only persons allowed on the streets are the religious police to ensure that no other persons moves outdoors. This also applies to tourists and you will be taken to jail, if caught, and the punishment is often community service, which usually means cleaning the temple area.

Nyepi starts at 6 am on the first day of the Saka calendar, one of two calendars they use in Bali, and ends 24 hours later. Yes, the Balinese have two calendars other than the Gregorian calendar and they control the Balinese religious feast days and days of religious ceremonies. The Saka calendar is a lunar calendar and has 12 months with 30 days each month, which adjusts to the solar cycle by allocating two lunar days to one solar day every 9 weeks. Also, an extra month is added every year to the Saka calendar not to fall behind the Gregorian, Western calendar. The Saka calendar is 78 years behind the western way of counting the years so we are now in the year 1939 – Balinese era. The Balinese second calendar is called Pawukon and is a 210-day calendar with an intricate system for days and weeks, in which different weeks contain different numbers of days.
Both the Ogha Ogha ceremony, which take place on the night before Nyepi, and the Melasti ceremony that takes place two evenings before Nyepi, are happening to prepare for Nyepi and we got the opportunity to participate with our village during all three days to prepare Bali for the new year. Pictures and videos on our experiences during these days can be found below. Happy new 1939 Bali!

Nyepi, eller tystnadens dag, är balinesernas nyår och, olikt vår västerländska nyårsfirande, innebär Nyepi att man ska vara tyst och meditera hela dagen. Flygplatsen är stängd, inget ljus eller eld är tillåtet och de enda som får vara ute på gatorna är den religiösa polisen som ser till att inga andra rör sig utomhus. Detta gäller även turister och blir du tagen så blir straffet ofta samhällstjänst, oftast innebär det att städa tempelområdet. Nyepi startar klockan 6 på morgonen på den första dagen i Sakakalendern, den ena av balinesernas två kalendrar. Ja, balineserna har två kalendrar utöver den gregorianska och den styr balinesernas religiösa högtidsdagar och ceremonidagar. Sakakalendern är en månkalender och har 12 månader med cirka 30 dagar i varje månad och där kalendern justeras mot solens cykel var 9:e vecka där två måndagar tilldelas en soldag. Sedan läggs en extra månad in varje år i Sakakalendern för att inte halka efter den gregorianska, västerländska kalendern. Saka ligger 78 år efter det västerländska sättet att räkna år så vi är nu i år 1939 Balinesisk tideräkning. Balinesernas andra kalender kallas Pawukon och är en 210-dagars kalender med ett invecklat system för dagar och veckor, där olika veckor innehåller olika antal dagar.

Både Ogha Ogha som sker på kvällen innan Nyepi och Melasti som sker två kvällar innan Nyepi, är en del av att förbereda Bali för det nya året och vi fick möjlighet att få delta i dagarna tre med resten av vår by för att förbereda Bali på det nya året. Bilder och video på våra erfarenheter hittar ni nedanför. Gott nytt 1939 Bali!

Ulrika and Pontus in traditional Balinese clothes, dressed up to take part in the Melasti ceremony.

Our host family was so kind to lend us clothes, dressed us and even did Ulrikas make up and hair. Terima Kasih, saya cantik!

Ulrika and our host mother on their way to the south temple in our village to see the Barong and Rangda coming out for the Melasti.

The Barong is a mythological lion-like creature who is the King of the spirits and defender of the good. Rangda is the Queen of the demons, eats children and is the enemy of the Barong. On Melasti, the village bring them out to a sacred place in the djungle and then place them in the north temple of the village. You can see more of them in the video below.

The whole village parading north behind the Barong and Rangda.

The sacred part of the djungle in our village, where the community took the Barong and Rangda to pray.

The Balinese loves their incense!

The village parading to the north temple, where the Barong and Rangda are placed and where we got invited to participate in the flower prayer and the water cermony. We didn’t want to take pictures during this part of the Melasti ceremony, but we are grateful that we were welcomed to participate in the preparation for Nyepi, which took place two days after Melasti.

The ogha ogha is a cermony the night before Nyepi to attract all bad spirits to Bali to be destroyed, so a fresh and clean new year can begin the morning after. The bad spirits are attracted with a lot of noise from drums, cymbals and shouting, and then captured by huge monster sculptures that are carried around the village. The scultpures are carried from south to north and then back to the south part of the villages again, before they are set on fire in order to destroy all the bad spirits caught in the monster. Our village built a huge pig, but other demons can also be seen all around Bali. The video below show how our village is trying their best to attract the bad spirits.

Burn bad spirits, burn!

Nyepi means that there is no light from the cities that can distract the night sky, so looking out in to the universe was our way to celebrate Nyepi.

An edited version of the night sky, darkness reduced. The universe is amazing!