Unique Celebration of Caka New Year in Bali

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Ogoh-ogoh parade
Ogoh-ogoh paraded by Achedya Murti Prasetya of Antap Kelod, Tabanan.

BY and large, New Year’s celebrations may be welcomed by various festive parties such as drinking to get drunk, having an excursion or other excitement. In Bali, Caka New Year celebration is welcomed with religious festivities. It is preceded with a series of rituals and cultural parades. Peak of the celebration is really tranquil. The Island of Bali, inhabited by a majority of Hindus, on the Nyepi celebration is completely closed for 24 hours, from sunrise on Nyepi to the sunrise on the following day. There is no transportation operating on the land, sea and air departing from and arriving in Bali. Emergency cases are permitted with specified recommendation of customary village and relevant apparatus.

Religious rules states that there should be no traffic (amati lelungan), no fire (amati geni), no work (amati karya) and no pleasure (amati lelanguan). The roads across the island will be very silent, shops, offices and public restaurants are closed, the beach is closed, electricity usage is made to a minimum. Pecalang or customary security guard will conduct patrol to ensure the compliance.

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Nyepi or Day of Silence is a moment of contemplation, meditation, fasting and entering into one’s self and pondering all activities in the previous years. In essence, Hindus keep silent with their families because the feast day is very special celebrated once a year based on lunar calendar.

At the very least, the series of Nyepi celebrations had begun three days earlier with melasti procession to the beach or water sources. This ritual aims to purify oneself with pratima or sanctified effigies and ritual paraphernalia followed with shared worship by all pilgrims. On Pengerupukan (the day before Nyepi) there is pecaruan or tawur kesanga to neutralize the universe from negative energies. It is organized up to the village and family level, and ends the welcoming procession of Nyepi.

In the afternoon, young generation supported parents held an ogoh-ogoh or papier mâché demon parade with the themes related to the ritual of Nyepi. The ogoh-ogoh figure must be bhutakala (evil spirits) and the like with a creepy face. Uniquely, the ogoh-ogoh material must be made from eco-friendly materials for easy decomposition. The use of Styrofoam is also prohibited at all. To be more attractive, it is also beautified with traditional gamelan music and dance creations.

This year Pengerupukan falls on March 6, then Nyepi (March 7) and Ngembak Geni (March 8). If you want to watch the ogoh-ogoh parade, ask for information to your hotel or villa where the nearest location is. When celebrating Nyepi, hotels or villas will usually encourage you not to do any outdoor activities and avoid prominent activities outside.

You will experience the silence on the Island of Bali for the whole day and the darkest night throughout the year. There is no aircraft roar as usual, vehicle fumes or other hustles and bustles. You can breathe fresh and clean air on the Caka New Year 1941. Have a nice holiday in Bali and enjoy the atmosphere of a newly reborn-like island!

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