Melasti Ceremony and Nyepi Day
The largest traditional celebrations, Melasti ceremony and Nyepi day, are held in Bali. The preparation for Nyepi starts from one month before with the building of Ogooh-ogooh; it is a giant representation of the evil spirits. The tension there becomes almost palpable like many ceremonies which are held in the beach. Nyepi day is a new year for Hindu people which are done in Balinese Saka calendar. Nyepi day means the day of silence in Bali. The most important and beautiful ceremony before holding Nyepi day is called Melasti. Nyepi is one of the most wonderful and spectacular festivals of the year in Bali. If you have plans to go to Bali in that period of the time, you should not miss it and plan to join the Melasti ceremony and Nyepi day there. The Balinese people, carrying long-poled umbrellas, walk in line towards the source of water; it is the sea or a holy spring. Women carry the offerings of flowers, cakes, and fruits, and men carry the sacred statues of the family on bamboo litters.
At the sea, the Balinese priest (Pedanda) prays and rings the small bell while the men carrying litters rush sacred figure to the water. It is symbolically washing the statues and purifying it. This action purposes to purify the Bhuana Agung (the universe) and Bhuana Alit (Earth) from all bad thoughts, deeds, and influences. It reminds everyone with the life value and helps to prepare the people for holding Nyepi day.
One day before Nyepi, the people are cleansed and foods are cooked for two days. In the evening, the people make noises as much as possible in order to scare away the devils. In the morning of Nyepi day, the children will blow many firecrackers in a last but hopeless trying to scare away the devils. At the sunset, the devil spirits will descend to the earth and the real fight will begin. The torches are lighted in everywhere and the children continue to blow the firecrackers. Men will drink Arak and carry the Ooh-Gooh around on the bamboo platform waving and turning around to confuse the devil spirits. After holding hours of the merciless fight, the devil spirits are vanquished and they will return to the place where they come from.
When the midnight comes, everything should be stop in order to make the devil spirits thought that the earth was emptied from all of living souls. All activities should stop for 24 hours. No one is allowed to go out and no light can be lit. The situation should be as silent as possible.