Hindu community in Bali celebrates Nyepi or the Caka New Year on Tuesday (Mar. 28). According to the belief of Balinese Hindu, Nyepi is the turn of the Caka Year whose history comes from India. It is said the Kaniska kingdom was first led by a wise king who was very advanced in culture and religion. His golden era was then honored as the turn of the Caka Year started in 78 AD and in Bali is celebrated as Nyepi.
Chairman of the Hindu Dharma Council of Indonesia (PHDI) of Bali, Prof. Dr. I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, stated that the King Kaniska led successfully so that fierce battle among local tribes could be totally ended. It happened because the king led by culture, not by violence. Under his leadership, his people lived prosperously and peacefully. Ultimately, it is celebrated as the turn of the Caka Year.
In Bali, Prof. Sudiana added that prior to the existence of Caka influence from India there has been a similar celebration to Nyepi at each village. There was Nyepi Desa specially implemented at the particular village after holding a grandiose ritual; Nyepi Segara implemented by fishermen where their members are not allowed to do activities at sea; Nyepi Tegal (in the moor) and Nyepi Carik (in paddy field). “Local Nyepi is intended to provide a space for people to make evaluation and introspection heading for a better life in the future,” he said.
Nyepi in each location also provides a space for nature to do the rotation in accordance with the plot, and not to be coerced. Since the implementation of Nyepi was carried out locally, the Hindu Dharma Council of Indonesia (PHDI) took the philosophy of Caka New Year in India to unite the celebration across Bali starting in 1959 so that it can be celebrated simultaneously.
Nevertheless, he added that the implementation of Nyepi could not be made simultaneously as it can be done today. There are important reasons to propose the Nyepi into a national holiday feast. Incidentally, there was also a call from the government for each religion to have a national religious holiday. After that, PHDI proposed Nyepi to the government and was accepted and approved by President Soeharto in 1986 as a national holiday.
By degrees, PHDI made coordination with religious councils, stakeholders and the communities so that Nyepi can be celebrated as the Hindus do today. “It enables due to the coordination and tolerance of all the Balinese people, not only the Hindus but also other communities. Therefore, Nyepi becomes a special day in Bali and even the world,” he explained.
In the celebration of Nyepi in Bali, the entire communities are not allowed to go out, make entertainment, work and start a fire. All the bans are complied with and implemented by Balinese people. People are not riding a motorcycle and car; as well as the flights are even abolished. A variety of entertainments including TV broadcasts are stopped. People light no fire and turn off the power. Services of all government and private offices including people’s daily activities are nullified.
“These can work due to great tolerance and the values of Nyepi are universal. Apart from being useful for the people of Bali and Indonesia, it is also for the world, so that the world then adopts it to be a Silent Day,” he added.
According to him, Nyepi is not only useful for humans, but also for the entire universe. At the moment of Nyepi, there is no pollution and the whole sky is clean. With the clean sky above, the ozone layer is not eroded. Clean air brings in health to all living beings. Trees also become healthy so that they can contribute to the life of every creature.
On that account, Nyepi actually contains a more profound meaning so that the public can make a self-evaluation for their future. The evaluation is done to organize a better life. No fire means that people can control their passions.
A celebration of Nyepi is commenced by the implementation of melasti where pilgrims come together and carry all the symbols of God’s manifestation to the sea to take the holy water of life and dispose of impurities and stains.
Then, mecaru tawur signifies the attention to the existence of the negative elements that change into positive ones, negative thoughts into positive ones towards a better life. If nature has not been changed into positive, nobody will be able to help human life. “To help this process, it must be followed with the implementation of catur bratha penyepian or four abstinence,” he said.
After implementing the catur bratha penyepian it is then resumed with Ngembak Geni that philosophically means that pilgrims do their best after making an evaluation. It is then ended with Darma Shanti to forgive each other.