Balinese ceremonial culture is as colorful as the setting sun’s cascading rays over the Indian Ocean. While Bali’s religious history is Hindu, Indonesia as a whole is Muslim. Hinduism is a mixture of Buddhism and Ritualistic “white magic”.
Balinese ceremonial culture: The Full Moon Ceremony
The Full Moon, is a time when the Moon is at its most powerful, and its influence is most potent. Purnama (or full moon) in Tanah Lot is always a special day for ceremonies and festivities. Hundreds of temples all over the island celebrate their anniversary on a specific full moon each year. Since full moon is also considered as an auspicious day for Balinese ceremonial culture, hundreds of ceremonies are held in all corner of the island on this sacred day.
Tanah Lot people believe purnama is a propitious day when God descends to the earth and gives His blessing. Tanah Lot people make special offering to the God in this holiday for Balinese ceremonial culture, give alms, reciting religious hymn, or set a pilgrimage to a remote temple, but for teenagers, the Tanah Lot Temple is the only destination. Tanah Lot people also believe that purnama is the best time for making good deeds or doing religious activities, since the reward of them will be multiplied by 100. This is the ideal time for healing, guidance, and completion.
In Bali, Purnama, is considered a good day for planting, especially for plants that bear fruit.
Balinese Ceremonial Culture: Neypi
Nyepi, The day of silence. It is practiced throughout the island where the Balinese ceremonial culture dedicates an entire day to introspection and spiritual cleansing, embarking on a new year based on the Balinese lunar calendar.
Nyepi is my favorite day of the year. The night before the silence begins, there is an island wide parade of paper mache monsters (Ogoh-Ogoh) sent about making a ruckus to scare evil spirits off the island, back to where ever they came. EVERYONE will stay in his or her family compounds (or hotels) and silence will overcome the island. There are no cars, no TV’s or loud radios, no lamps or fires and no airplanes overhead as the airport is closed. This is the only place in the world where the government will shut down an airport for meditation & introspection…
Balinese Ceremonial Culture: death
When addressing Balinese ceremonial culture with death, there are a number of rites. The first is the ritual cleansing of the corpse by the family and the banjar (neighborhood), then comes the burial or the cremation (if the family can afford to cremate right away, they will choose that option) and then the post-crematory purification rites where the soul becomes a deity that shall be worshipped in the family temple.
I was present for the cleansing ceremony of an eight-year-old boy. Being that I am of a western culture, it was too intense for me to witness. I had to leave prematurely; the grief that the family was feeling penetrated everyone present.
I will never forget that experience. It also showed me another way a culture graves. The idea is to mourn over the full time period of the days of the ceremony, in order to release the spirit of the deceased, and to enable the family to no longer mourn thereafter.