Nyepi

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Bali

nyepi

i see god in the darkest things
in the quiet of night i hear villages sing
“there’s a demon in that dragon purge it out.”

in my second third world on a motorbike
i learned a waking prayer so i could sleep at night
then i took my chances and realized many dreams.

wild dogs tumbling along rice fields
and i asked hanuman take away shield
i am loud and reckless this is how i play
you are loud and reckless thats no way to play

i fear nothing, no thing fears me
justice has different hats for different days

release my anger, love thy neighbor
put that pain to some good use anyway

teach me honor, must remember
don’t be selfish with all your love anyway

tilt my head back howl like you said
in the end my body’s spirit anyway

i will do things i’ve never done before
cuz i’m powerful and i’m not afraid no more

i feel god in the slightest wind
at the rate i manifest every dream deepens
and i know i never want to stay the same

on a day of silence while the island slept
i cast my demons out at the feet of ganesh
said, “remove the obsticles bravely with grace.”

in a past life i cut throats and scalps
and in this life i mend the wounds i dealt
maybe by my hands or by my words alone.

All during our stay in Bali, we saw these monstrous creations slowly being built near temples and public centers. The ogoh ogoh, as they’re called, are paraded through town and then cremated to banish bad spirits as part of Nyepi (new year) celebrations. Note that the bigger ogoh ogoh has her face covered. Though there are no winners, there is a spirit of competition in the ogoh ogoh parade. Keeping the face covered is seen as a way of keeping her secret. That’s my 6’ 4" sweetheart standing in the bottom corner of the photo. Yes, ogoh gogh are often HUUUGE!

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Happy Nyepi! Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is celebrated based on the Balinese calendar (in 2013, it falls on March 12). It’s a day of fasting and meditation for the Balinese, and the following day is the celebration of the New Year.

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Selamat Hari Nyepi! Nyepi adalah “Hari Keheningan” di Bali yang dirayakan berdasarkan kalender Bali  (pada tahun 2013, tanggal tersebut adalah 12 Maret). Hari ini merupakan hari berpuasa dan bermeditasi untuk warga Bali, dan hari berikutnya adalah perayaan Tahun Baru.

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Nyepi holiday in Bali; before, during and after.

People in Bali, instead of party, sounds and firework, welcome their New Year by staying in silence all day long. It is called Nyepi, from the word sepi, which means silent. They don’t go to work or do any significant job at home, don’t light fire or turn on any kind of light sources, don’t have fun only for the sake of having fun, they don’t go outside of their house. They are supposed to stay at home and meditate and reflect. Well, people in Bali are not exactly the strictest people in the world when it comes to implementing religion, and I’m glad for that (no, seriously), but people try. No broadcast allowed, airport is closed, tourists are asked not to leave their hotels. Bali is not exactly a perfect society (but seriously which society is perfect nowadays anyway), but this kind of thing makes it beautiful.

Regardless though, these photos are really beautiful. It is either a really expensive camera or a really talented photographer.

Find more here.

Nyepi

Today, Bali is silent. Restaurants are closed, tourists are ensconced in their hotels, families refrain from cooking, and nobody is on the street save for a few policeman to enforce the rules. It is Nyepi, the Balinese New Year.

I’m actually not in Bali right now -I arrived in Nepal yesterday- but it’s such a fascinating event that I would be remiss if I didn’t include a post about it. (Plus, I discovered that my goddaughter and her brother read this blog and are interested in the unique aspects of other cultures. Hi, William and Vivian!)

The day before Nyepi, there are parades and big celebrations on the streets featuring enormous human-like monsters, like the incomplete one pictured above. They are called “Ogoh-Ogoh” and are made over the course of a few weeks by young men in each village and city. I watched these 15-20 ft sculptures being made and couldn’t help but smile each time I saw one. Giant demons with crazy faces and fangs, long fingernails, enormous breasts… well, they are made by teenage boys, so you get the picture.

The Ogoh-Ogoh, which are burned after the parade, symbolize purification and are meant to confuse the evil demons that are thought to approach the island on the eve of the New Year. If that doesn’t work, the next day the island is completely and utterly silent. The thought is that demons will be tricked into thinking the island is abandoned, get bored, and leave. By tomorrow at 6am, when the silence is lifted, all the demons will be gone and life goes back to normal, starting the new year fresh and unencumbered by negativity.

  • from Kathmandu, Nepal
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Here are some better pictures. At first, I was terrified to walk out. Then I grew some balls and did it. (’: This was before Chloe told me that I could go to jail for 48 hours if they caught me. But I did see some people, they noticed me but kept on walking by. I don’t know, but I’m glad I got a few pictures. 

The black dog in the second picture is my dog, Bruno. He was just happily walking the streets like a lad.