Bali, Java, Indonesia

For one full day, Balinese and the tourists are urged to remain silent and engage in introspection
Bali preserves its unique Hindu tradition
Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times

The resort island of Bali fell quiet over the weekend as the authorities shut down its airport and seaports, and switched off all radio and television transmissions.

Triumph of good over evil Balinese carry an ogoh-ogoh, an effigy representing evil spirits, during a parade on the eve of the Balinese Day of Silence, in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia. NYTIts streets, normally jammed with tourists, were deserted as security guards patrolled the island, ensuring that locals and foreigners alike stayed indoors, and even exhorting them to turn off their lights.

The authorities closed down Bali not to stamp down on political unrest, but to mark the annual Day of Silence, a Balinese Hindu holiday called Nyepi that ushers in the New Year. For a full 24 hours starting at 6 am Saturday, Balinese Hindus were urged to remain silent and engage in introspection. Bali, which first became known as a destination among hippies from the West a couple of generations ago, tuned in and dropped out, at least for the day.

“Have a quiet time! Enjoy the silent day!” Wayan Sutama, 51, a traditional security guard called a pecalang, called out to a group of potentially unquiet Australians gathered on a terrace overlooking the beach here. With a half-wary smile, he flashed them a thumbs-up.

In Kuta, a rowdy beach resort on the southern tip of the island, only roosters and pigeons, usually drowned out by the din, could be heard on Saturday. The pecalang peered down side streets in search of transgressors but found only other pecalang looking back, or the occasional stray cat.

As the last redoubt of Hinduism in Indonesia, the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population, the island of Bali has been attracting increasing numbers of outsiders in recent years, thanks to its booming tourism industry. While Hollywood romanticised Bali in the recent movie ‘Eat Pray Love,’ Indonesians, mostly Muslims from the islands of Java and Sumatra, have been gravitating here looking for jobs. 

The tension between local tradition and outside forces is perhaps at its most intense in Kuta, where Islamic extremists bombed a nightclub in 2002, killing 202 people, and bombed three restaurants in 2005, killing more than 20 people.

In reaction, officials in Bali have been reinforcing local customs, especially those surrounding Nyepi. Three years ago, they began sealing off Bali from the rest of Indonesia for 24 hours after tour organisers were caught smuggling in tourists on the Day of Silence as part of ‘Nyepi packages.’ At the same time, the authorities banned radio and television, starting with local broadcasters and, last year, extending the ban to all satellite transmissions.

“The lesson from the Bali bombings was to return to our traditions and not be too influenced by outsiders,” Sutama said. He and another pecalang, Nengah Renda, 51, spoke as they faced a memorial for the bombing victims on Kuta’s main commercial strip; behind them, a lingerie shop called 69Slam featured an image of a woman with a man on all fours attached to a dog leash.

The day before, in one of the many local temples squeezed between shops in Kuta, the residents of a neighbourhood called Pande Mas had been putting the final touches on their ogoh-ogohs, effigies 20 feet tall representing evil spirits that would be burned later.

Purify minds

“After chasing away the evil spirits, we have Nyepi to purify our minds, to reflect on what we did in the past year and to engage in introspection,” said Made Mastra, 52, the neighbourhood chief. “Then we will be clean to enter the new year.”

Neighbourhood boys, who can often be seen rubbing shoulders on Kuta’s streets with Australian, Asian and European tourists, were required to make their own ogoh-ogohs. On Saturday, a group of boys, led by Wayan Putra Setiaman, 14, said they would obediently stay home, not daring to step outside lest they be caught by the pecalang.

They would not be allowed to use their television sets.

“But we can send SMSs to our friends as long as we’re quiet?” he said, zeroing in on a subject under debate among the pecalang.

How about video games? “Yes,” he said. “No!” said another boy, Wayan Wima Putra, 10, said, tapping the older boy across the chest.

“No,” the older boy corrected himself, explaining that video games connected to television sets were forbidden but that portable ones were OK.

Even as Bali has reinforced its traditions, some outsiders said it had lost a bit of its legendary openness. Ucok, 41, the manager of a tattoo shop who moved to Bali from Sumatra 15 years ago, said he and other Muslims felt a little ‘discrimination.’

“Since the bombing, the locals are more suspicious toward Muslims,” Ucok said, adding that outsiders would nonetheless keep coming here. “Bali is like sugar. Ants come to it.”

Made Darsana, 59, the deputy chief of one of Kuta’s three subdistricts, said outsiders were occupying an increasingly larger share of the population.

On Saturday, Darsana and a dozen pecalang were taking a break from their patrol at a temple where they quietly shared fried rice. Darsana, who spoke English with an unmistakably American accent, explained that he learned English about 40 years ago from an American Indian named Joe. Joe was among the hippies who discovered Bali, back in the day when Kuta had perhaps a single guesthouse, Darsana said.

“Life isn’t about material things, about tall buildings,” he said. “It’s about being one with the world. That’s the core teaching of Hinduism. I didn’t know this when I was younger. You learn these things as you live. Been there, done that.”
With development and the influx of outsiders, Bali’s environment has been irreparably damaged, he said. Outsiders now owned almost all the major businesses in Kuta. 

“It’s sad,” Darsana said. “We now have only our culture.”

His smile and constant cheerfulness, though, belied his expression of loss. Despite the Day of Silence, Darsana grew increasingly loquacious as he reminisced about his hippie youth — hanging out with Joe, mastering the surfboard as well as the bong, taking a three-day drive all the way to Jakarta.

“And my girlfriend was in the back,” he added, to roars of approval from the subdistrict chief as the other pecalang nearby immediately chided him in unison, “Shhhh!”

Sheepishly, Darsana mentioned that, at night, he himself would make sure that his neighbours turned off any electric lights or candles. Only nursing mothers or the sick would be allowed to leave their lights on.

“It’s going to be like Kuta in the 1960s,” he said. After a long pause and perhaps some memories left unmentioned, he added. “Been there, done that.”

Nyepi is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Sakanew year) according to Bali's calendar (in 2011, it will be on March 5th). It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New year.[1][2] Ogoh-ogoh being paraded in Ngrupuk or The Bhuta Yajna Ritual.

Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. 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.

Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.

On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.


§  First, The Melasti Ritual is performed at the 3-4 previous day. It is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa and is performed at the beach to respect them as the owner of The Land and Sea. The ritual performed in Pura (Balinese temple)near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga (sacred objects) belongs to several temples, also to acquire sacred water from the sea.

§  Second, The Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual also meant to appease Batara Kala by Pecaruan offering. Devout Hindu Balinese villages usually make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of bamboo and paper symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which involves burning the ogoh-ogoh.

§  Third, The Nyepi Rituals is performed with the following conditions:

§  Amati Geni: No fire/light, including no electricity

§  Amati Karya: No working

§  Amati Lelunganan: No travelling

§  Amati Lelanguan: Fasting and no revelry/self-entertainment

§  Fourth, The Yoga/Brata Ritual starts at 6:00 AM (e.g. March 26, 2009) and continues to 6:00 AM the next day.

§  Fifth, The Ngebak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual is performed for all Hindus to forgive each other and to welcome the new days to come.

§  Sixth and finally, The Dharma Shanti Rituals is performed as the Nyepi Day or "Day of Silence."


1.    ^ Hogue, Thomas (2006-03-24). "In Bali, a holiday for the ears"The New York Times (New YorkNYTC). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2011-03-07.

2.    ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (2011-03-06). "Silence Befalls Bali, but Only for a Day"The New York Times (New YorkNYTC).ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2011-03-07.

External links

§  Juniartha, I Wayan (2008-03-06). "Nyepi, in search of the silence within"The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2009-01-13.

§  "Nyepi: Bali's day of silence". Retrieved 2009-01-13.

§  "Nyepi Day, a silence day to mark Balinese New Year". Retrieved 2009-01-13.

§  Dhadhiati, Anna. "Nyepi: the balinese silence". Retrieved 2009-01-13.

§  "Nyepi: New Year in Bali". 2011-01-30. Retrieved 2011-01-30.


Bali's day
of silence


Every religion or culture all over the world has their own way to define and celebrate their new year. For example, the Chinese have the Imlek year and to celebrate it, have, as they called it in their own language, "Gong Xi Fat Choy". The Moslem societies have their Muharam year, and any of the people over the world using the Gregorian calendar, celebrate the New Year on January 1st.

The same thing also occurs in Bali, however the Balinese use many different calendar systems. They have adopted the Gregorian calendar for business and government purposes. But for the endless procession of holy days, temple anniversaries, celebrations, sacred dances, building houses, wedding ceremonies, death and cremation processes and other activities that define Balinese life, they have two calendar systems. The first is the Pawukon (from the word Wuku which means week) and Sasih (which is means month). Wuku consists of 30 items starting from Sinta, the first Wuku and end up with the Watugunung the last one. The Pawukon, a 210-day ritual calendar brought over from Java in the 14th century, is a complex cycle of numerological conjunctions that provides the basic schedule for ritual activities on Bali. Sasih, a parallel system of Indian origin, is a twelve month lunar calendar that starts with the vernal equinox and is equally important in determining when to pay respect to the Gods.

Westerners open the New Year in revelry, however, in contrast, the Balinese open their New Year in silence. This is called Nyepi Day, the Balinese day of Silence, which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox, and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu era which began in 78 A.D.

Nyepi is a day to make and keep the balance of nature. It is based on the story of when King Kaniska I of India was chosen in 78 A.D. The King was famous for his wisdom and tolerance for the Hinduism and Buddhism societies. In that age, Aji Saka did Dharma Yatra (the missionary tour to promote and spread Hinduism) to Indonesia and introduce the Saka year.

The lead upto Nyepi day is as follows:

  • Melasti or Mekiyis or Melis (three days before Nyepi)
    Melasti is meant to clean the pratima or arca or pralingga (statue), with symbols that help to concentrate the mind in order to become closer to God. The ceremony is aimed to clean all nature and its content, and also to take the Amerta (the source for eternal life) from the ocean or other water resources (ie lake, river, etc). Three days before Nyepi, all the effigies of the Gods from all the village temples are taken to the river in long and colourful ceremonies. There, they have are bathed by the Neptune of the Balinese Lord, the God Baruna, before being taken back home to their shrines.
  • Tawur Kesanga (the day before Nyepi)
    Exactly one day before Nyepi, all villages in Bali hold a large exorcism ceremony at the main village cross road, the meeting place of demons. They usually make Ogoh-ogoh (the fantastic monsters or evil spirits or the Butha Kala made of bamboo) for carnival purposes. The Ogoh-ogoh monsters symbolize the evil spirits surrounding our environment which have to be got rid of from our lives . The carnivals themselves are held all over Bali following sunset. Bleganjur, a Balinese gamelan music accompanies the procession. Some are giants taken from classical Balinese lore. All have fangs, bulging eyes and scary hair and are illuminated by torches.The procession is usually organised by the Seka Teruna, the youth organisation of Banjar. When Ogoh-ogoh is being played by the Seka Teruna, everyone enjoys the carnival. In order to make a harmonic relation between human being and God, human and human, and human and their environments, Tawur Kesanga is performed in every level of society, from the people's house. In the evening, the Hindus celebrating Ngerupuk, start making noises and light burning torches and set fire to the Ogoh-ogoh in order to get the Bhuta Kala, evil spirits, out of our lives.
  • Nyepi
    On Nyepi day itself, every street is quiet - there are nobody doing their normal daily activities. There is usually Pecalangs (traditional Balinese security man) who controls and checks for street security. Pecalang wear a black uniform and a Udeng or Destar (a Balinese traditional "hat" that is usually used in ceremony). The Pecalangs main task is not only to control the security of the street but also to stop any activities that disturb Nyepi. No traffic is allowed, not only cars but also people, who have to stay in their own houses. Light is kept to a minimum or not at all, the radio or TV is turned down and, of course, no one works. Even love making, this ultimate activity of all leisure times, is not supposed to take place, nor even attempted. The whole day is simply filled with the barking of a few dogs, the shrill of insect and is a simple long quiet day in the calendar of this otherwise hectic island. On Nyepi the world expected to be clean and everything starts anew, with Man showing his symbolic control over himself and the "force" of the World, hence the mandatory religious control.
  • Ngembak Geni (the day after Nyepi)
    Ngembak is the day when Catur Berata Penyepian is over and Hindus societies usually visit to forgive each other and doing the Dharma Canthi. Dharma Canthi are activities of reading Sloka, Kekidung, Kekawin, etc.(ancient scripts containing songs and lyrics).

From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self introspection to decide on values, eg humanity, love, patience, kindness, etc., that should kept forever. Balinese Hindus have many kind of celebrations (some sacred days) but Nyepi is, perhaps the most important of the island's religious days and the prohibitions are taken seriously, particularly in villages outside of Bali's southern tourist belt. Hotels are exempt from Nyepi's rigorous practices but streets outside will be closed to both pedestrians and vehicles (except for airport shuttles or emergency vehicles) and village wardens (Pecalang) will be posted to keep people off the beach. So wherever you happen to be staying on Nyepi Day in Bali, this will be a good day to spend indoors. Indeed Nyepi day has made Bali a unique island.

Nyepi Day, a silence day to mark Balinese New Year

Balinese Hindu uses two-calender system. One is Pawukon system, a 210-day cycle that divided into ten separate week system. The other one is Saka Calendar, a lunar calendar that originally from South India and brought to Indonesia around 465 AD. One Saka year has 12 month and each month ends on a new moon. The Saka Year is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar. The calendar begins on the first day of the 10th lunar month or ends on the new moon of 9th month. It usually falls on March or April on Gregorian Calendar. To mark the New Saka Year, Balinese celebrates a Nyepi Day. The next Nyepi Day that will be celebrated on March 30th, 2006 (Gregorian Year) is to celebrate 1928 Saka Year.

The main purpose of the Nyepi Day ceremonies is to pray to the God (Hyang Widhi Wasa), wish that HE to clean the universe (bhuwana agung) as well as the 'universe" within men (bhuwana alit). Based on the history of its birth of Saka Year, Nyepi Day also means to be a momentum to increase genuine solidarity and tolerance between people, accept the differences and similarity as natural factor of life and put them in a balance proportion so they can be in a positive side of life. We do not to fight each other because our differences.

Several rites need to be done to celebrate the Nyepi Day. Those are:


Mekiis or Melis or Melasti as part of Nyepi Day.


click for more Melasti pictures

On this day the effigies of God ('pratima') and temple accessories of each village will be brought in a long and colorful procession to the beach or water spring or river accompanied by gamelan orchestra and followed by all villagers dress in traditional temple clothes. This interesting occasion is usually hold three day or four days before the Nyepi Day. Once they get into the beach than there will be a communal prayer toward the ocean. After the rites in the beach finish, the procession is heading back the village and the effigies of God as well as temple accessories will be placed in one of the


village temple, Pura Desa. Several communal prayers will also be held until the last evening before the Nyepi day.

The philosophy of this particular 'Melasti' rite to Balinese is to cleanse all impure things of human as well as the universe and to take the essences of life from the ocean. Ocean is the symbol of life itself that consistently consist of happiness and sadness. Within those happiness and sadness, we can find the essence of life.

Tawur Kesanga and Caru ,sacrifice rites before Nyepi Day.


Mecaru - scarification ceremony

Tawur Kesanga and Caru are sacrifice rituals that hold one day before the Nyepi Day. Different levels of sacrifice are held for village, district, regency and provinces by sacrificing chickens, duck, dog, goat to the biggest one cow or bull. Many kind of plants are also use as part of the offerings. By using those animal and plants on the ritual, Balinese are motivated to preserve


the existence of those animal and plants. Balinese are encouraged to raise the animal and to grow the plant, otherwise they would not be able to perform their ritual activities and lost their source of life.

The ceremony itself usually held in crossroad of village or village around noon. For the house compound a smaller rites also held in family temple and series of offering will be offered in the front gate of each house. The whole member of family will perform a prayer called 'mabyakala prayascita' to neutralize to bad force (bhutha) within themselves.


Nyepi Day - Balinese New Year - Ogoh Ogoh

On the same day on sunset time around 5 or 6 PM there will an event called Pengrupukan. Family member will walking around their compound bringing fire torch and make a lot of noise by kulkul (traditional bamboo bell). For village level, villagers will also held a procession with the fire torch and kulkul. Since 1980 this procession also include procession of Ogoh-Ogoh, a giant monster doll, in the form of demon characters as symbol of evil (bhuta). The doll mainly made of bamboo and cement sacks. Before the procession, a ceremony is perform to invite spirits occupy the


Ogoh-Ogoh and after the procession another ceremony is held to neutralize the spirits by symbolically burn or actually burn the Ogoh-ogoh. This spirit is believed as spirit of evil (bhuta) that may become the disturbance for human and the universe and they will be always part of human and universe. The purpose of the overall ceremony that held on this day are to neutralize the bad force / spirit (bhuta) so it is not any longer becomes disturbance but instead become positive force for the good of human and universe.

However, for this year, they will be no Ogoh-Ogoh parade in most part of Bali (perhaps all part of Bali). This decision were made during the meeting between government and police of Bali, Balinese Hindu priests and head of village communities due to the political campaign period. There is suspicion that the Ogoh-Ogoh parade which mainly involving young crowd may be used for unexpected political interest. Based on religious point of view, the priests ensure that the non-existing of Ogoh-Ogoh will not decrease the essential meaning of the Nyepi celebration.

The Nyepi Day, the silence day

On the first day of the New Year after the noisy night a silence and quite day is perform. Nyepi derive from 'sepi' means silence. The activities in all over the Bali island is stopped for 24 hours. There are four mandatory religious prohibitions called Catur Brata Penyepian that should be followed by common Hindu people in Bali. The prohibitions include amati geni or no fire, amati karya or no work, amati lelanguan or no entertainment and pleasure, and amati lelungan or no travelling. These prohibitions help people to control their five earthy senses by mind and wisdom in order to increase the quality of life for the upcoming year. For people with higher spiritual ability or willing to have higher spiritual life are expected to perform further prohibitions include fasting by not eating or drinking, stay still by not talking, meditating by focusing the mind to the God and praying.

Ngembak Geni, a day of forgiveness.

The anti-climax of the Nyepi day is on the following day, which is called Ngembak Geni where people share happiness by visiting their relatives and friend. The new year is started by forgiving each other and forget the hate in the past year and work together to face the challenge of the New Year. Only a simple ritual rite is performed within the house compound for this day. However, various cakes will be made to welcome the visit of relatives and friends.

Practical Info for visitors

To witness the Melasti procession, it is best to be around the beach either in Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur and others. Ask people at your hotel which part of the beach that usually use for the Melasti near by your hotel and when they usually held the procession. If you happen already on the road and see people dress in white and yellow on a parade, just follow them. Please dress properly with sarong, sash and shirt. Should you are on the beach sunbathing with your bikini and the procession pass by you please kindly change your bikini with proper cloth or stay away for a while. It is just too much contrast, you with your bikini sunbathing, and one meter away Balinese with traditional cloth perform a serious religious ceremony.

Most likely each village will make at least one Ogoh-ogoh, the giant doll, and this particular thing will amazed you a lot. Do drive around in the morning of the day before Nyepi when the Ogoh-Ogoh will usually placed side of the road. It is a great picture time for the scary face of the Ogoh-Ogoh. The actual procession of the Ogoh-Ogoh will be held around sunset so make sure you come back with your vehicle before that if you do not want to get stuck behind the procession. It is wiser and easier to witness the procession near by your hotel by foot. In some main town like Sanur, Kuta, Denpasar, Ubud and others, there are contest for the best Ogoh-Ogoh. .

Should you be in Bali or first arrive in Bali on the juncture of Nyepi Day, you must take the subsequent orders into account: 
The silence begins at 5 a.m. of March 21st and the next 24 hours.The airport will be totally closed on March 21st, so there will be neither arrival nor departure in the airport on that day. All connecting airports around the globe have been informed about it in advance. If you take surface trip, you should not plan your arrival in Bali on March 21st, there is no activity in the bus terminal and most importantly there will be no traffic on that day in the whole Bali Island.

You should stay inside your house/hotel. Do not go out of the house/hotel. Should you need food or anything to buy, do it on the previous day because on Nyepi Day all shops do not open. Since all activities throughout the island are paused during the Nyepi Day, put your plan before or ahead. Should you want to make a light or play the music, keep it minimum, no light and sounds are allowed.Don't make any noise while you are at home/hotel.

There will be local officer on duty to ensure everybody including visitors obey the prohibitions. Some exceptional are made only for hospital, emergency situation and family with very young babies. If you experience any emergency situation please report to the hotel staff or manager on duty to obtain proper permission.

Melasti – Preparing for Bali's Day of Absolute Quiet

Balinese Make Annual Pilgrimage to the Seaside to Guard the Delicate Balance Between Man, God and Nature.

Bali News: Melasti – Preparing for Bali's Day of Absolute Quiet

(3/7/2011) On the run-up to Bali's day of absolute silence "Nyepi," Bali's Hindus observed the ritual celebration of Melasti on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. On this date, sacred religious objects are temporarily removed from village temples and carried to the sea where they can be ritually cleansed in preparations for the New Year observance that follow three days later.

The Balinese gathered at ocean shores across the island for Melastion Wednesday, starting from approximately 3:00 pm. Kuta Beach in Bali was packed by local families wearing traditional dress who flocked to the beach carrying a wide variety of religious offerings.

Young and old alike enthusiastically joined the long processions down to the beach. There, the Melasti observance began with prayers led by a Hindu priest, followed by the tossing of offerings into the sea. Then, young girls are called upon to dance the Rejang - a dance whose very name means "offering" and is generally performed for the gods with the dancers backs turned to their human audience. The holy day at the beach concludes with group prayers and meditations.

Following prayers the sacrifice of live goats, chicken and ducks is made by throwing the livestock into the ocean's surf. This final part of the Melasti ritual - Pakelem is intended to seek safety and security from Betara Segara who controls the oceans.

Following festive ogoh-ogoh parades on Friday night, the island transformed into an isle of complete silence on Saturday, March 5, 2001, when, from 6 am on Saturday until 24 hours later the Balinese are not allowed to work, ignite flames, venture forth from their homes or satisfy personal appetites.


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Buta Kala

Buta Kala are demons or malevolent spirits in Balinese mythology.



·         1 Etymology

·         2 Description

·         3 Behavior

·         4 Ogoh Ogoh

·         5 Source

·         6 Links


Come from Sanskit buta means time and kala elements.



They are usually portrayed as monstrous, with missing or excessive body parts, animal features and the usual fangs, bulging eyes and potbellies.



Buta-kala are considered as the immediate cause of all that is injurious to human joy and comfort, physical and mental, natural and social. Wars, epidemics, catastrophes, arguments, anger, confusion, greed, sadness and other disturbances are signs of their presence.

The buta-kala are everywhere but their absence is felt mainly when the gods are distant or when human neglect or wrongdoing has alienated the Divinity.

Buta-kala are also considered as the angry forms of divinities when they feel neglected or forgotten. They may also serve the gods and carry out their orders.

They can also help humans to achieve important goals and part of the Balinese magic is devoted to offerings to buta-kala.


Ogoh Ogoh

Ogoh Ogoh monsters are colourful monster sculptures in the form of creatures of the underworld known in Balinese as buta-kala. They are made from bamboo frames and paper maché and are mainly built by the youngsters of the villages and kampungs in the weeks and months before Melasti and Nyepi.

On the day preceding Nyepi, the Hindu new year, all traffic is blocked and the Ogoh-Ogoh monsters are paraded around near the main intersections and finally burned in the evening to drive away evil spirits.



§  Wiener, Margaret J. Visible and Invisible Realms: Power, Magic, and Colonial.



§  A gallery showing many Ogoh Ogoh monsters


Other links: ‘Nyepi’ and spiritual tourism


The island of Sriwijaya

Candi, Prambanan (Brahma vana)

Lost Temple of Java 2/2

Lost Temple of Java 1/2

Borobudur Temple

Bali & Java

Two prominent Indonesian islands and two distinctive worlds. Java is predominantly Muslim, whereas Bali still clings proudly to its Hindu traditions. Both names exude tropical sensuousness and appropriately so. With lush tropical forests, soaring volcanoes, huge terraced rice fields covering the hillsides, tea plantations, unspoiled beaches and blue waters, Bali and Java are simply rich in color.

Yogyakarta   This centrally located town on the island of Java is only a short flight away from Bali. Yogyakarta is the gateway to many great sites in Central Java, primarily the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. However, do allow yourself a little more time to discover this charming town.

Kraton--the Sultan's Palace 
Pasar Ngasem--the Bird Market 
Taman Sari--the Fragrant Garden Water Palace 
Villages renowned for Indonesian arts & handicrafts

If you would like to learn the craft of making batik, day or weeklong lessons are available. We can arrange that for you.

Borobudur   A gigantic Buddhist monument that is ranked with Angkor Wat and Bagan's land of pagodas as a world religious treasure. How it was constructed remains a mystery. But it is certain that Borobudur was built between the 8th and 9th centuries during the Sailendra dynasty. In the early 19th century, Sir Thomas Raffles salvaged it from the volcanic ashes. After tedious restoration, it was included on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites in 1991.

Borobudur is about 27 miles from Yogyakarta, and so a day trip would be convenient. Over 1,400 panels of relief sculpture depict the Buddha's teachings, begining from the world of samsara at the base terrace and rising gradually to nirvana at the summit. Perhaps you may want to skip some panels as they are over 3 miles long.

Candi Prambanan   Or known simply as Prambanan. It is claimed by the locals to be the most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia. Completed in the 10th century, Prambanan's main temple was dedicated to a Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer. There are over 200 temples that make up the Prambanan complex.

Solo   Its other name is Surakarta. This delightful town has two palaces-- Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace and Mangkunegaran Palace, a large batik market, and a small antique market that sells old paintings, wayang kulit puppets and fake antiques. Solo is about 42 miles from Yogyakarta and is often visited in conjunction with Prambanan, which is on the same route.

Bali   The image of Bali as a tropical paradise began to appear in the West as early as the 1920s. It is now a major tourist destination. However, many beautiful beaches where tourists stay have very little of the "real" Bali. To experience it, you have to go inland and explore the charming villages and towns.

Over six miles long, Kuta Beach pulsates with activities and holiday-makers; it has a hippie atmosphere. Nusa Dua is quiet and has many exclusive hotels. Sanur is in between: less crowds and more of the feel of Bali. Farther away in the northern part of the island is the black sand beach of Lovina which is relatively less popular.

Uluwatu Temple--this old temple sits at the edge of a cliff that drops 300 feet into the Indian Ocean 

Taman Ayun Temple--temple of multi-tiered roofs built during the Mengwi Kingdom 

Tanahlot Temple--built on a huge rock over 400 years ago. Surrounded by the sea during high tide, this temple is definitely a postcard image of Bali 

Besakih--considered by the Balinese as the "mother" temple of Bali 

Ubud--an inland, hilly town inhabited by many local and foreign artists offering plenty of art galleries and wayang kulit (shadow puppets) shows. There are plenty of beautiful resorts in Ubud for those tired of the beach scene, with prices ranging from very reasonable to the very high- end

Ganesha in Indonesia


Namaskar Mitra,

Got this piece from the Indonesian Consulate General Office. There are atleast 15 spots in Indonesia where Lord Ganesh idols are found. The link gives you the names of each spot and photographs too.

One of the Indonesian currency notes carries the picture of Ganesh. (see note on site). In India Ganesh has made names like Ganapati, Vighnesvara while in Indonesian language is named 'Gajah' which is probably derived from Sanskriti word 'Gaja' or elephant.

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