Saka: Bali Hindu New Year and Nyepi day of silence

One of Indonesia’s most unique holidays is Hindu New Year. The Balinese Saka calendar is one of two calendars used on Bali. Unlike the 210-day pawukon calendar, it is based on the phases of the Moon, and is approximately the same length as the Gregorian year. Saka celebrations and rituals usually comes around in March and last up to 1 week. 3-4 days prior to Saka New Year the Melasti processions take place. It is the biggest Bali Purification Rituals involving the most Balinese Hindu people to carry all the God symbol to the sea as well as other holy water resources. The Meaning of Melasti ceremony is a self-cleaning process of human as well as entire universe. Eve of Hindu New Year On Hindu New Year’s Eve in Bali, the Bhuta Yajna ritual is performed by every community.

This ritual banishes negativity and evil from the island and its inhabitants. On Hindu New Year’s Day, Hindus participate in Nyepi rituals. Nyepi, a public holiday, is Balinese Hindus' festival of silence, fasting and meditation. Nyepi is celebrated every Saka New Year based on the Saka calendar. It’s ultimately the quietest day in Bali and it is a day reserved for self-reflection practicing silence from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning. No one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. Lighting fires or light, including electricity, working, entertainment or pleasure and traveling at all are forbidden.

Tourists are not exempt from the restrictions. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali's usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni (Relighting the Fire), social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from each other, and to perform certain religious rituals together. Fires and electricity are allowed again, and cooking of food resumes.