Nyepi Rituals and the significance
A series of rituals are conducted in every part of the island through the holy week towards Nyepi Day. Although the Balinese New Year span across 6 days, the Day of Silence is just one aspect of the celebration.
The first is The Melasti (Melis or Mekiis) Ritual which is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa and performed 3–4 days beforehand to acquire sacred water from the sea. The ritual is performed in Pura (Balinese temple) near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify sacred objects such as Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga belonging to several temples. Similar rituals are performed at the Balekambang Beach on the southern coast of Malang, East Java; it is the ritual of Jalani Dhipuja.
Bhuta Yajna Ritual & Ogoh Ogoh Parade
The second is The Bhuta Yajna Ritual, which is performed one day before Nyepi, to vanquish negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual is also meant to win over Batara Kala (see below) by the Pecaruan offering. Tawur Kesanga and Caru are sacrificial and offering rituals that take place one day before the Nyepi Day.
Hindu Balinese villages start making ogoh-ogoh statues about two months before Nyepi. The ogoh-ogoh depicts evil spirits that appear as demonic, giant statues made of bamboo and paper. At sunset, between 5–6 pm, Balinese parade are passionately playing a loud mixture of the kulkul (traditional bamboo bell), claxons, gamelan music and drums, to expel the symbolized negative forces. The basic idea is to scare off evil spirits by making unbearable amounts of noise as is humanly possible.
The best processions take place either in Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur and other famous beaches. Each village makes at least one spectacular Ogoh-Ogoh and take pride in the entire process from start to finish. Oftentimes these areas would hold contests for the best Ogoh-Ogoh to be commemorated, while others are ceremoniously burnt in the central ritual of Ngrupuk to symbolize the eradication of any evil influences in life. Then is followed by more dancing, drinking and feasting in a somewhat chaotic fashion, all to drive evil spirits far away from the island. Not every ogoh-ogoh will be burnt these days, so ask the locals whether their village still follows this custom or not.
Nyepi – Day of Silence
This day is strictly reserved for self-reflection anything that might interfere with that purpose is strictly prohibited. When everything is starting anew, Nyepi expects a day of absolute silence, based on the four precepts of the Catur Brata:
Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity. Prohibition of satisfying pleasurable human appetites.
Amati Karya: No form of physical activity except things dedicated to spiritual cleansing and renewal.
Amati Lelunganan: No movement or traveling outside the home.
Amati Lelanguan: No revelry/self-entertainment or general pleasure.
The fourth is the Yoga Brata Ritual, which starts at 6:00 am on the day of Nyepi and continues to 6:00 am the next day. The more faithful Balinese would spend this day in meditation, but otherwise would follow the tradition of staying indoors.
Ngembak Agni / Labuh Brata Ritual
The fifth is the Ngembak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual which is performed the day after Nyepi and is the official New Years Day. Ngembak is the day when Catur Berata Penyepian is over, and the Balinese Hindus visit families, neighbours and relatives to exchange forgiveness.
They also conduct the Dharma Canthi, activities of reading Sloka, Kekidung and Kekawi (ancient scripts containing songs and lyrics). The youth of Bali practise the ceremony of Omed-omedan or The Kissing Ritual to celebrate the new year.