Every religion or culture all over the world has their own way to define and celebrate their new year. For the Balinese Hindu we also have our New Year which is called Nyepi, A Day of Silence.
Nyepi is a day to make and keep the balance of nature. It is based on the story of when King Kaniska I of India was chosen in 78 A.D. The King was famous for his wisdom and tolerance for the Hinduism and Buddhism societies. In that age, Aji Saka did Dharma Yatra (the missionary tour to promote and spread Hinduism) to Indonesia and introduce the Saka year.
The ceremonies and celebrations before and after Nyepi day:
Melasti or Mekiyis or Melis (three days before Nyepi)Melasti is meant to purify the pratima ( Temple Effigies) or arca or pralingga (statue), with symbols that help to concentrate the mind in order to become closer to God. The ceremony is aimed to clean all nature and its content and also to take the Amerta (the source for eternal life) from the ocean or other water resources (lake, river, Natural Spring etc). Three days before Nyepi, all the effigies are carried in a colorful procession to the nearby natural springs, lake or the sea for purification before they are place on the Bale Agung (Great Pavilion) in the Village temple. The villagers come and bring their own offerings for prayers every single day until the New Year’s Eve where the effigies will be returned to the temple that they are belong to.
Tawur Kesanga (the day before Nyepi)Exactly one day before Nyepi, all villages in Bali hold a large exorcism ceremony at the main village cross road, the meeting place of demons. The villagers which are dominated by the younger generation including children construct and build the Ogoh-ogoh (Terrifying Effigies). They are carried in a parade for warding off the evil spirits from their neighborhood. It is symbolizing the exorcism. The Parade is held all over the island of Bali after the sun goes down. Bleganjur, a Balinese Musical Instruments are played to accompany the parades.
Nyepi ( Highlight of the Festival)On the Nyepi day itself, every street on the island is quiet, nobody doing their normal daily activities. There are only Pecalangs (traditional Balinese security man) who controls and checks for street security. Bali is shut down for 24 hrs, it is including our only International airport, Denpasar. Nyepi is a day of silence, fasting and meditation.
Ngembak Geni (the day after Nyepi)Ngembak is the day after Nyepi is the opposite of Nyepi Day, where the island’s life is back to normal with cars and people on the streets. Everyone go out and socialize.
From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is a day of self introspection and contemplation to decide on values of the sense of humanity, love, patience, kindness, etc., that should be kept forever.