Your either part of the Hindu ceremonies, planning a day of doing absolutely nothing or driving to the West Coast of Bali.
Nyepi day, or also known as the Balinese Silent Day, is where the people of the Hindu religion and culture believe that all the evil spirits are driven away. These beliefs are carried out by the entire population remaining silent, indoors and ultimately shutting the entire island down for a single day. Shutting down a whole island? Yep, that’s right, shops, electricity, vehicles and even the airport! The entire island is to remain ‘closed’ from one night to the next.
There’s one exception though. In the western region of Bali, from Desa Pulukan, Medewi Beach, Yeh Sumbul until Pangkung Wani, which really isn’t that far, is slightly different to the rest of the island. It has been this way for many, many years and as the Islamic people are still very respectful towards these beliefs and traditions of the Hindu people, they continue with their daily lives, but in a very altered way. Lucky enough, Medewi Beach is where my partner Dwi comes from and where I currently call home. So as we watch the countless amounts of tourists and out-of-towners roll up to the ‘beachy’ village of Medewi searching for motel rooms, the local people including Dwi’s family here, are very busy preparing for the coming crowds.
On the night of Pengerupukan or ‘Ogoh-Ogoh’ night, the Hindu people perform and carry out the parades of the Ogoh-Ogoh around their villages. This is where I was lucky enough to experience the unbelievable paper mache statues come to ‘life’. They do this to drive away the Bhuta Kala or the evil leaders of the Balinese Hindu beliefs and all evil things that may be present. From huge statues to the size of a child’s doll, the Ogoh Ogoh are paraded through the local streets with men and young boys holding them up, dancing with them on their shoulders and all held together cleverly with bamboo. The men and woman walk with pride to the beat of the traditional music also being played whilst parading.
This is what blew me away. In the western world there is so much hatred towards different religions, cultures and traditions and especially towards Muslim and Islamic people. Not only do the Islamic villages supply and help control these Hindu parades with their village members as security, they join in in watching and encouraging parades and also close down theif electricity, vehicles and work for the day/night. It is quite inspiring to see the way in which The Pecalang (Hindu Village Security) and the BANSER (Medewi Muslim Security) work together during ceremonies, parades, silent day and throughout the night, whilst minimal electricity is being used. It is evident that these two different groups living within the same village, come together, cooperate and put their different beliefs behind them, in order to create a safe and enjoyable Balinese Hindu New Year for all.
The road here in Medewi during Nyepi Day was eerily quiet, especially as we live directly in front of Bali’s main highway. There are kids of all ages riding bicycles, skateboards, playing with balloons and toys, watching monkey shows, while the local woman open their warungs (restaurant and juice bars) for the people to enjoy on their day off. Young people are seen smiling and hanging out, while the older people are relaxed, playing cards or dominoes on the road all while the hundreds of tourists are soaking up the sun, chilling out and surfing amongst some of Bali’s best waves.
In regards to respecting these traditions such as Nyepi Day, it is somewhat questionable to understand the respect that the Islamic Villagers show towards the Hindu people. Many may believe that by going outside and continuing to somewhat carry on with their daily lives during the ‘Silent Day’ that the Muslim populations aren’t displaying respect, obedience or courtesy towards the Hindu People, but in fact they are! In discussing this with many locals here in Medewi, it is evident that there is a strong agreement and surprisingly a huge amount of respect for the Hindu celebrations that has been continued throughout hundreds of years and many generations before the current population. This is also evident in the way in which the Hindu people respect the Islamic people during their celebrations such as; Idulfutri or when the roles are reversed.
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