Once again, I have been the perpetrator of abandonment and neglect.  To this blog… not the kids. Although as I sit here half way around the world my husband may have a difference of opinion on the latter.

Today is Hindu New Year; Nyepie as it is referred to here, and I want to say that I have the good fortune of being here in Bali for it, but I think that the word “fortune” discredits everything I have done, endured and conquered to be here.  I am still young-ish by many people’s standards and today, in one of the 23 countries I have visited, I did a sun salutation in front of a full solar eclipse in the most beautiful of lush greenery, in Bali.  I feel like I should go find a Mic, just so that I can drop it.  And…. I know there is so much more.  So since this is someone’s new year I am going to make 1 resolution and 1 only… to tend to this blog.  I figure if I am going to keep it entertaining enough for anyone to read it I am going to have some big adventures.

So with that let’s get to it!

Happy Nyepie! Today is what is known as the day of silence and the first day of the new year on the Hindu calendar.  While the same days are celebrated in India, the names and traditions differ and I have to tell you, I think Bali is winning.  Celebrations started 6 days ago when we arrived on the island and mostly, if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought it was just another day in Bali.  There seems to be a ceremony for everything down to good dental hygiene, so the beautiful women wandering the streets with offering baskets on their heads is an almost daily occurrence.  If you have any clue that you have landed on this island at just the right time, you may notice the village men, teens and boys secretly working in their respective herd on their Ogoh Ogohs. I guess I should first explain to you what Nyepie is and what the hell is an Ogoh Ogoh anyways.

Nyepie is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (on this year, 2016, it falls on March 9).   Observed from 6am to 6am the next morning it is a day of silence and self reflection.

There is only 1 rule in Nyepie Club. Ok, so there are four rules, but I could not resist the fight club reference.
1) No fires.This includes lights.
2) No working.  Our villa staff prepared meals for the 24 hour period and went home to their families.  Somehow our chef, Nurdy, thinks she will return to our shriveled emaciated white bodies and went home very concerned for us.  I assured her we had noodles and beer, so we are all set.
3) No entertainment or pleasure.  Although in this paradise situated villa, it kind of feels like we are cheating on the pleasure part.
4) No traveling.  This means we cannot leave our property, nor can anyone else.  The bustling streets of Ubud are a ghost town.

Many of the native island residents fast and stay in total silence.  Our group of 10 is observing the silence as well, with only purposeful whispered communication.  We were totally silent but then realized that using interpretive dance was NOT going to get me the damn butter for my toast.

A lot of tourists and non native residents leave the island before Nyepie, thinking that a day trapped in your compound sounds awful, and oh my are they wrong.  While I am enjoying the silence, it is really the day before Nyepie that makes it best time I have ever visited.  Imagine Mardi Gras meets Burning Man and then gets wrapped in a Carnival sa’mich.  The Bhuta Yajna Ritual begins with what appears to the naked eye as  3 people whacking every inch of their property with a banana leaf whip, banging pots and trying not to actually set fire to anything with a makeshift straw torch. This is done in order to vanquish the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature.  Simply put they chase away the demons that have settled down in their hood over the last year.  As sunset falls everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, gathers at the town center aka the village Futbal (soccer) field and then the delicious craziness begins.  The Ogoh Ogohs are finally revealed to the town as a procession, including 30 foot poles meant to hold up the electrical wires, marching down the street to drums, gongs and gamelans.  Each group carrying their giant paper maché statue set on a bamboo stretcher carried by 30-50 men each.  The main purpose of the making of Ogoh-ogoh is the purification of the natural environment of any spiritual pollutants emitted from the activities of living beings (especially humans).  The silence is meant to be a time of self reflection and family. They also stay quiet so that the demons can’t find their way back.  I mean even the airspace is not to be used.  No flights, nada! And now that I have bored you to death with the a history lesson let me show you some cool shit so that those of you who hung in there through this incredibly long post can be rewarded.

 

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If you would like to see what near death by Ogha Ogha looks like click here!

After the Ogohs battle each other in the town center, you make the long walk home through a sea of scooters parked smack in the middle of the street. I am pretty sure they stay out there for 36 hours because no amount of safety patrols could untangle that mess.

Silence will be ending in just a few minutes and this post is likely a symptom of not being able to gab all day.  Happy New Year and may all your demons be gone.

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