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Bali Hindu New Year

Bali Hindu New Year 2017 and 2018

One of Indonesia’s most unique holidays is Hindu New Year. Hindu New Year is also known as Hari Raya Nyepi.

YearDateDayHoliday
201728 MarTueBali Hindu New Year
201817 MarSatBali Hindu New Year

Hari Raya Nyepi is a day of silence and self-reflection. Hari Raya Nyepi is celebrated on the first day of the Saka lunar calendar. According to the Gregorian Calendar, Hari Raya Nyepi usually arrives in early spring. The Hindu celebrations in Bali can last up to several days.

Melasti Ritual

There are various rituals that the Balinese people observe to celebrate the coming of the Hindu New Year in Bali. Three days prior to Hari Raya Nyepi, the Melasti Ritual is observed. The Melasti Ritual is performed near the water in Pura, a Hindu temple. Using sea water, the ritual purifies sacred objects.

Bhuta Yajna Ritual

On New Year’s Eve in Bali, the Bhuta Yajna ritual is performed by every community. This ritual banishes negativity and evil from the island and its inhabitants. According to Hindu beliefs, it is the responsibility of humans to maintain the balance between the gods, Earth, and humans. For this ritual, Balinese people create large statues of demons and other evil creatures out of bamboo and paper. These statues are known as ogoh-ogoh. Many of the ogoh-ogoh seen in parades are created by youth groups from Balinese villages. The most impressive ogoh-ogoh are usually created by Balinese artists. After the ogoh-ogoh are created, they are taken to a large street parade for everyone to see. Fireworks and flares are also common at Hindu New Year street parade. It is believed that the ogoh-ogoh will absorb the negative energy of the spectators and ward off evil spirits. After the parade, the ogoh-ogoh are burned in a large public bonfire. In addition to warding off evil and purifying the Balinese people, the bonfire is also believed to satisfy Batara Kala. The Bhuta Yajna ritual is a fairly new tradition in Bali. It was first practiced in Bali during the 1980s.

Who is Batara Kala?

According to Balinese stories, Batara Kala is the god of the Underworld. He is also considered to be the god of destruction. Batara Kala is the son of Batara Guru, or Shiva. Batara Kala was originally sent to Earth to punish humans for evil habits. Batara Kala does not actually limit his destructive tendencies to humans who commit evil acts. Instead, the god of the Underworld consumes unlucky humans. Because of Batara Kala’s consumption of unlucky humans, the Balinese people developed the Bhuta Yajna ritual to ward off unluckiness, evil, and other spiritual pollutants. Batara Kala is also believed to be the bringer of lunar and solar eclipses. In Balinese stories, Batara Kala is the enemy of the god of the moon and the god of the sun. The people of Bali believe that Batara Kala is trying to consume one of these gods whenever there is a solar or lunar eclipse. Since the Balinese people favor the gods of the sun and moon, they will perform sacrifices to fight back against Batara Kala.

Day of Silence

The Hari Raya Nyepi celebration is associated with the Nyepi rituals. The first aspect of the Nyepi ritual is known as Amati Geni. Amati Geni declares that no fire or light can be used on Bali during Hari Raya Nyepi. Amati Geni also restricts the use of electricity. The second aspect of the Nyepi ritual is Amati Karya. According to Amati Karya, no one in Bali may work during Hari Raya Nyepi. The third aspect of the Nyepi rituals, Amati Lelunganan, declares that no one may travel during Hari Raya Nyepi. The final aspect of the Nyepi rituals is Amati Lelanguan. Amati Lelanguan declares that every person in Bali must fast during Hari Raya Nyepi. Amati Lelanguan also requires people in Bali to refrain from entertainment.

During the Day of Silence, Bali people are expected to reflect on their actions over the past year. Many Balinese people will take this as an opportunity to rest and think of ways to improve themselves throughout the upcoming year. To ensure that all aspects of the Nyepi rituals are followed, Nyepi policemen patrol the island of Bali. Everyone on Bali must abide by the Nyepi rituals. Because of this, the Bali airport closes for the day and all visitors stay indoors or leave the island. The Day of Silence is a tradition that dates back to some of the earliest years in Balinese history. Balinese people believe that remaining silent for a full day after loud celebrations will trick evil spirits into thinking that the island of Bali is inhabited. According to this idea, the spirits will leave the island alone since their ultimate goal is to torment humans.

Bali’s Hindu New Year, or Hari Raya Nyeppi, is a unique holiday that allows the Balinese people to celebrate the Saka New Year in accordance to their traditions.