Photography by: Briana Autran Photography
This year, Matt and I were lucky enough to participate in two New Years Eve celebrations. The first being in South Florida with our close friends on December 31st, and the second on March 8th in Bali, Indonesia with the entire city of Ubud.
The Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi, is much different from the ritual of popping champagne bottles and blowing on noise makers that most of us westerners take part in. Nyepi follows after the new moon and has much more meaning to the hindu culture. They start the New Year off on March 9 with a day of silence. The day of silence is to promote self- reflection and meditation. For the Hindu people there is to be no working, no talking, no eating, and no entertainment or pleasure. The streets are empty and tourists are also expected to participate in the Nyepi Day of Silence by staying in their hotel rooms or in the premises of their resorts. Matt and I were not allowed to leave our villa and we even found out that the airport is closed for the entire day; nobody in and nobody out.
The whole island goes dark from 6am-6pm. The Hindu belief is that the demons and the evil spirits will pass Bali by because they will not see or hear it.
The day before the Nyepi Day of Silence there is a big celebration which is comparable to our NYE celebration, except in Balinese style. This day is to meant to drive the evil spirits away by making as much noise as possible. At dusk people started banging pots and pans while carrying torches through their respective villages. The roads were blocked off and there was a huge parade in the middle of the streets with loud traditional music and dancing. Giant Colorful Demon effigies made of paper måché and bamboo known as the OGOH-OGOH are carried through the streets with a torch lit parade.There was so much excitement that night for us because we didn’t know what was going to happen. We just jumped right in and were just following the rush of people that were singing and chanting all while following the parade through the streets of Ubud.
Each resident of Ubud marched through the streets with their own version of the Ogoh-ogoh. These giant demons were carried by bamboo structures that made a base for the men to hold on to. For some of the larger Ogoh-ogoh there were 20-30 men and boys keeping the demon effigies high up in the air.
After following the parade for about 90 minutes it stopped at the Ubud soccer field. This is where all the villagers gathered with their Ogoh-ogohs. Each of them were very different and unique. At the field there were hundreds of people along with a light show and music as each village ran around the field with their Ogoh-ogoh. This part was so much fun because we did not know which way they would run with the Ogoh-Ogoh and sometimes they would run into the crowd and we would have to quickly get out of their way. In the end all the Ogoh-ogohs are burned at the temple in the forest as they represent evil spirits.
After a very eventful Balinese NYE we spent New Years day known as Nyepi Day of Silence at Firefly Bamboo Eco Resort in Ubud and found them to be very accommodating. Even though Matt and I do not practice hinduism we were not exempt from the tradition and were prohibited from going out into the streets just like everyone else. Since we were not allowed out, the resort provided us with all three meals that day and we both really enjoyed our day in. It was our time to relax and self-reflect in our own way.
Celebrating this Holiday in Bali was a really great cultural experience for us. This trip is about being open minded and completely submerging ourselves in the culture as much as we can, as we hope to learn a little more about this beautiful world we live in.