5 Facts about Silent Day Celebration in Indonesia

March 10, 2020

If we’re having a discussion about how one religion starts to spread in this country, it will probably take weeks to dissect each of its theories. The same thing goes with Hinduism. According to professor and scientist Frederik David Kan Bosch, Hinduism was brought to Indonesia by noblemen from India, while N.J. Krom and Von Van Faber agreed that it is most likely brought merchants, sailors, and fishermen. Millions of years after the religion was first discovered, Hinduism is now considered to be the fourth biggest religion in Indonesia with over 4 million devotees.
There are six islands that are known to have the largest Hindus citizens – Bali, Java, Sumatera, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Lombok. However, among these areas, Bali is still known to be the home of the majority of Hinduism devotees in the country – with over 83% of its local citizens. Therefore, for those of you who are interested on learning about Hinduism and many forms of its celebrations and ceremonies, Bali will be the perfect place for you to visit. Especially on a special event like Silent Day, which will be celebrated in less than two weeks!
For those who haven’t get around to find thorough information about this celebration, Silent Day or Day of Silence is a commemoration or celebration done by Hindus (mainly in Bali) to mark the beginning of the new Saka Year. What special about Silent Day is that leading up to ‘Nyepi’ rituals, there are few of other things that must be done and completed by those who celebrate this religious event. Not only that, we also have another fun facts about Silent Day that you might not know!

1. Bali will be closed for the day!

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This is an important PSA for travelers who are planning on visiting Bali during Nyepi period – you might want to rearrange your plan. Because, every year, airports, port, even bus station will be closed for the day. No tourists are allowed to be in and out Bali once the Nyepi ritual begins. Last year, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport closes more than 207 international flights and 261 domestic flights in one day. A spoke person from Ngurah Rai stated that the standard procedure is carried out in order to make sure that people who celebrate Silent Day can pray and conduct their rituals in peace.

2. Punishment awaits for those who isn’t obeying the law during Silent Day


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Silvita Agmasari from travel.kompas.com wrote that there are four major rules or laws to be obeyed by everyone during Silent Day. They are Amati Karya (no working), Amati Lelungan (no travelling), Amati Geni (no fire or light), and Amati Lelanguan (no self-entertainment) – so it is considered to be normal to have Bali stands in a total silence during Nyepi ritual. For your information, these rules are not only applicable for Hindus, but it is also has to be obeyed by every person who live in Bali as a form of honor and solidarity. If anyone is trying to breach this law, a Pecalang or local security will make sure that they will be process accordingly. So, always remember to be respectful and considerate to others!

3. There are six rituals to be completed


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According to wikipedia.com, there are six main rituals to be completed leading up to Silent Day. First, is Melasti which is performed 3 – 4 days leading up to Nyepi. Melasti is a ritual to purify sacred objects belongs by temple with sea water. Next is Bhuta Yajna ritual which is performed to banish negative elements and creating balance in the universe. During Bhuta Yajna, the famous demonic statue ‘Ogoh-Ogoh’ will be paraded around the village and then burned as a symbol of getting rid of bad spirits. The third and probably the main ritual on Silent Day celebration is Nyepi. During Nyepi, activities such as working, travelling, lighting up fire, and entertainment are strictly forbidden. This ‘sit in silence’ ritual will then followed by Brata ritual where people will meditate from 6 AM on Nyepi day until 6 AM on the next day. After Brata is successfully done, Ngembak Agni will be performed as a symbol of giving forgiveness to others. Finally, Silent Day will be closed with Dharma Shanti ritual.

4. Signature dishes not to be missed on Silent Day


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When it comes to almost every religious event in Indonesia, signature dishes play a significant role in each of the celebrations. Perhaps, one of the most valid reasoning around this phenomenon is due to the fact that Indonesia has hundreds or even thousands kinds of traditional food, which also known to be delicious and makes everyone feels like home. Around Silent Day, there are five signature dishes you will find almost on every house you’ll come and visit. First, we have Entil which is kind of similar with Ketupat you found on Eid Al Fitr. What makes Entil different, though, is the leaf used as its cover. Up next, there is Ketongkol which is also similar with Entil and this dish is usually served with the traditional Lawar and hard-boiled egg. For the sweet dessert, Pulung Nyepi and Cerorot is perfect to wash down all the savory taste you’ve got from the previous dishes. Last but not last, there is Nasi Tepeng – rice cooked with herbs and served with assorted vegetables – for those who are looking for a heavy and tasty meal.

5. The meaning behind traditional clothes worn on Silent Day


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As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are two rituals to be completed leading up to Nyepi – they are Melasti and Bhuta Yajna. Since the two rituals will be held in a temple, it is important for everyone who attend the ceremony to dress properly – usually by wearing a Balinese traditional clothes. According to Ida Pedanda Gde Manara Putra Kekeran, the traditional clothes brings the concept known as Tri Angga (accessories from the neck to the head), Manusa Angga (pieces of clothing worn from belly button to the neck), and Butha Angga (pieces of clothing worn from belly button to ankle). There are many of hidden philosophies surrounding Balinese traditional clothes, one of them is around Udeng which usually worn by men as a head band. Udeng has many different kinds of knots which serve as an homage to the higher power of the universe and an encouragement to do more good things instead of bad.