Friday, March 23, 2012

A Culture to Learn From~

Bali works on a MUCH different calendar, every 210 days Bali experiences a New Year. In addition to the importance & dedication of each day, the Balinese people live more in-sync with the Earth as they rise & fall with the sun.
Bali never seizes to amaze me with the amount of intention that fills each moment, but this holiday is something to write home about.

Nyepi: The Balinese New Year
The depth of this holiday is something I must delve much deeper into, but this is my understanding thus far:

Tawur Kesanga (the day before Nyepi):
Many days before this the elders of the culture gather the young children & ask them about the characters that live in their nightmares. The elders then relay this information to the young adult men who then gather materials to build the FAMOUS Ogah-Ogah (scary looking monsters-which are representation of the evil spirits). One thing to note about the Balinese people is their delicate balance of good & evil. They truly believe that they must cater to both in order to live harmoniously in every day living. Each time they give offerings, or go to ceremony, they pray unto the good as well as the evil. One cannot live in balance without both. On Tawur Kesanga the Ogah-ogahs are ready to be shown off, but it takes weeks to build & create them. Usually the compounds hide them until this day with tarps, making the outside eagerly wait to see their masterpieces. When the sun start to fall the vibe on the whole island shifts, a weird, creepy energy fills the air, but the people are so alive & so excited. The Ogah-ogahs are created to call on the evil spirits for the Balinese to show gratitude to by partying with them. By nightfall, it becomes a sloppy parade, when the intoxicated teenagers hold up the huge beasts & trample through the streets showing off their phallic beasts. The crowd roars with excitement & the Balinese gamelan music beats everyone's chest into a pulp. The women follow the men with torches, taking the beasts to the nearest cemetery when they burn them all to the ground. Demonstrating to the demons that you are welcome, but only for short periods of time. By midnight all of the people (including tourists) are hidden in their compounds (houses or hotels), nestled away safely by the comfort of their families.

The next day is Nyepi, Bali's New Year day which is celebrated in silence. No one goes outside, no one makes a peep. The island is silent. There is no travel (airports are even shut down), no one is at work, no one cooks, & there is NO use of electricity. This day is dedicated to utter silence & reflection, a Balinese man told me " when we are not talking we can listen more." On this day I could hear the Earth resting, no one digging, no one driving, just resting.
After the Balinese electrify the evil spirits the night before the next day they go in hiding... This confuses the evil spirits, there is no one to antagonize, so they leave the island.
In the silence the people reflect on the past year & plan ideas for the future year to come. In the silence they can hear what the Gods are telling them & what their own spirit needs.

An Australian was moved by Nyepi & created "Earth hour" a time (1 hour) for western people to turn off all lights & electricity & reflect on their impact.

The Balinese dedicate 24 hours to this, and I wonder could the western world EVER handle 24 hours in silence????

~~Bali is my teacher~~

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