Nyepi – Day of Silence
In 2013 Nyepi or Day of Silence falls on March 12 which, by design, will be in the middle of our forthcoming March 9-16 Ashram Yoga Retreat. We think it will add another dimension to our retreat and will enrich the experience of the participants.
An observer’s take.
Here we would like to reproduce an article written last year 2012 by Terry Cox, a long time friend of the Ashram, who kindly forwarded it to me for inclusion.
“.. Bali New Year – Ogoh Ogoh and Nyepi – In Bali the New Year is celebrated quietly. In fact, Nyepi is a day of silence and reflection when, for 24 hours, everyone stays at home and there is absolutely no traffic throughout the whole island. The airport is closed, no music is allowed, no bright lights at night and there are village security men patrolling the streets to make sure the rules are kept. If you did venture out you would be lectured and probably fined. It’s very special to experience this day with only the sounds of the sea and the birds – even the dogs seem to know that barking will be frowned upon.
However, in Bali things are never as simple as they seem. A silent day also has dangers especially from the bad spirits and monsters that are always on the lookout for ways to sneak in to our lives. We always need to find the balance between good and evil. So as a precaution, on the day before Nyepi, the ogoh ogoh come out.
Every village will have been busy during the previous weeks building enormous effigies, sometimes 4 or 5 metres tall, built on platforms from papier mache on frames of bamboo and wire. They are scary creatures, caricatures of the gods or, sometimes, of famous world figures and pop stars.
At dusk on Nyepi eve the parades will begin. The ogoh ogoh will be hoisted on the shoulders of 20 or 30 strong helpers and carried through the streets, accompanied by loud percussion music to scare away any monsters who may be on the prowl. The ogoh ogoh will twist and turn, facilitated by generous rations of tuak, (fermented palm juice) to disorient any bad turn spirits. This confusion should drive them away, preferably out to sea.
So, having made sure that the evil spirits don’t get into our lives we can be assured of a peaceful day of Nyepi to welcome the New Year. ..”
Note 1: Terry forgot to mention that ‘everyone stays at home’ rule includes refraining from venturing to our ‘private’ beach. Terry had a swim and got pinged! (a rare oversight that hurts more to his pride as he’s normally very attuned to the nuances of the Balinese customs, more so than many of the locals).
The ideas behind the symbolic rituals.
While researching about Nyepi we came across a rather succinct description from Wiki which touches on the philosophy of Nyepi and how it is generally practised in today’s Bali. Not one to ‘reinvent the wheel’ we quote below from the said Wiki article:
“.. Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every Isaawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2012, it fell on March 23rd). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi, a Government holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New year.
Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.” ..”
What’s more on Rituals it went on:
- First, The Melasti Ritual is performed 3-4 days beforehand. It is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa. The ritual is performed in Pura (Balinese temple) near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga (sacred objects) belonging to several temples, also to acquire sacred water from the sea.
- Second, The Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual is also meant to appease Batara Kala by Pecaruan offering. Devout Hindu Balinese villages usually make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of bamboo and paper symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which involves burning the ogoh-ogoh.
- Third, the Nyepi Rituals are performed as follows:
- Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity
- Amati Karya: No working
- Amati Lelunganan: No travelling
- Amati Lelanguan: Fasting and no revelry/self-entertainment
- Fourth, the Yoga/Brata Ritual starts at 6:00 a.m. and continues to 6:00 p.m. the next day.
- Fifth, the Ngembak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual is performed for all Hindus to forgive each other and to welcome the new days to come.
- Sixth and finally, The Dharma Shanti Rituals is performed as the Nyepi Day or “Day of Silence.” ..”
(Note 2: The first, Melasti, ritual occurs outside the Retreat timeline so as a group we won’t see any of it. The second is on March 11 and we should see the parade going around Candidasa. We could also drive to neighbouring villages or to the capital of the region, Amlapura, but that depends on traffic advice as there’d be huge traffic jam with village parades basically on the two lane road to the capital. We will be observing the third, the fourth which is for the very devout Balinese and is about observing one day of fasting is obviously optional, but we will generally participate on the fifth and sixth)
Our 9-16 March 2013 Yoga Retreat
More info about the retreat www.baliashramyoga.com or check our last retreat https://ashramgandhi.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/bali-ashram-yoga-retreats-5-oct-20-26-2012/ or drop us a line at email@example.com
Our teacher for this retreat is the Seattle based Jennifer Isaacson who has many loyal followers there and during her numerous regular yoga retreats, primarily in Mexico, but has been taking yoga groups at the Ashram as well. We are fortunate that she can squeeze us in for the March Retreat.
Below is a version of the the two page flyer of the retreat:
Gedong Gandhi Ashram (also known as Ashram Gandhi Çanti Dasa – ‘servant of peace’) at Candidasa is the first and oldest Ashram in Bali. For more info www.ashramgandhi.com
Our ‘sankalpa’: A yoga filled week of retreat that gently blends with our Ashram ways and natural surroundings, with visiting and Ashram’s in-house, accomplished yoga teachers. Modest yet comfortable seafront or seaview outlook bungalows, full-meal accommodation with our ‘highly popular’, sumptuous, wholesome, vegetarian and fish meals. Value for money – yet still combining a health retreat with a touch of community service (your mere patronage to the Ashram alone helps it finance its Gandhian “Life of Service” ideal with its projects). Access to ashram’s facilities and services, such as Gandhi library or acupuncture clinic, or to simply interact with ashram members or join the puja/prayers, observe/learn Ashram’s cooking, retreat to our meditation room, or swim in the open sea.. The Ashram is idyllically located in the auspicious confluence of ocean frontage, spring-fed lake and a sacred temple nestled on the lake-side of the large steep hill overlooking the Ashram. All tailor made for a good yoga week!
Nyepi: Bali’s New Year Day of Silence & Reflections through spiritual readings and pursuits which yoga and the Ashram provide a good starting combination. Total ban on lights, fire, cars and, indeed, airline flights – a unique experience to live to the spirit of Nyepi (from sepi/quiet).
Schedule. March 2013: Sat 9th Arrivals, 10th – 16th Retreat, and Sun 17th Check-outs
Daily/Legend: Normal Fonts – members, Italics – Retreats and ♣ Italics – Yoga periods
|5 – 6 am||Optional/Morning Puja (incl. Agni Hotra/fire ceremony)|
|♣ 7.00 – 7.45 am||♣ Yoga with Jennifer – Sun Salutation Surya Namaskara|
|♣ 7.45 – 8.30 am||♣ Pranayama and Meditation with Jennifer (at the meditation room)|
|8.30 – 9.00 am||Breakfast with Ashram members|
|9 – 10 am||Free period|
|♣ 10 – 11.45 am||♣ Yoga with Jennifer – Asana and Nidra Class|
|11.30 – 12 noon||Optional/Midday Puja|
|12.30–1.30 pm||Lunch with Ashram members|
|1.30 – 4.30 pm||Free period – Group/Private Tours/Activities|
|♣ 4.30–5.45 pm||♣ Community House Yoga with Kawidana or other resident teachers|
|5 – 6 pm||Optional/Dusk Puja (incl. Agni Hotra)|
|6 – 6.30 pm||Free period|
|6.30–7.30 pm||Dinner with Ashram members|
|7.30 – 8.00 pm||Optional/Night Puja|
|8 pm–morning||Free period – or Early to bed, early to rise!|
Our key word here is flexibility and programs may change to suit the group’s or individual’s needs; 5, 6, or 7 full-day retreat (incl an extra night for eve of full-day start) at AUD 650, 700 or 750 respectively for all-inclusive ‘not a penny more’ all vegetarian & fish meals twin-share bungalow, 2 or 3 small tours, excluding airfares/transfers but add AUD 200 for non shared accommodation. Deposit of AUD 200 pp with booking and the balance a month prior to Retreat.
More about us: www.baliashramyoga.com and http://jenniferisaacson.com/ or of previous retreats’s https://ashramgandhi.wordpress.com/category/yoga/ or photo collections of the ashram/accommodation http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashramgandhi/collections/72157627326482760/ or a blog from previous guests http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/keithandbeth/1/1255756538/tpod.html#_
Considering all the above, in terms of its philosophy and intent of Nyepi’s self-reflection, and of vanquishing one’s negative’s elements, the Yoga Retreat at the Ashram is perhaps the place to experience this auspicious day and also to witness the one day when this once sleepy fishing village, just like the rest of Bali island, morphed into an eerily deserted and quiet place on the planet, devoid of any man-made disturbances. What better place is there to observe and participate in such special day than in this special Gandhian Ashram, while immersing at yoga/meditation retreat at that? (not to mention another New Year ‘celebration’ in just over two months apart!)
postscript: We have just started a ‘Flight Watch’ post on our blog to share info about Flight Offers, originally just from Australia but hopefully others will contribute to also include flight offers from Europe or the USA, which will help others who are interested in one of the retreats. Check it out!