|What is the Meaning of
Hari Raya Nyepi ?
Over the next two weeks,
the Balinese Hindu community will be busy with two major religious ceremonies.
March 17 sees the summit of the Panca Wali Krama rituals at Besakih, coinciding
with taur Agung Kesanga (a ceremony to celebrate the end of the Saka year,
which is designed to sacrificially cleanse the universe and all within
it. This is followed the next day by Hari Raya Nyepi.
falls on Thursday 18 March, for 24 hour, Hindhu people stay quitely at
home. They are not allowed to go out in the streets, light fires or switch
on the lights, they should not engaged in entertainment nor make a noise
that might disturb others. During that time they are also forbidden to
cook any meals.
Hari Raya Nyepi is preceded
by two ceremonies. The first is Melasti, a ceremony praising the power
and glory of God through the parading of symbolic effigies which are believed
to emanate holiness, which vibrates through the cosmos, eliminating negative
characteristics in society and nature. The second is Taur Kesanga, one
of the Bhuta Yadnya ceremonies which are conducted to purify the universe,
ritually and spiritually.
Nyepi marks the beginning
of the Saka New Year. The purpose is to purify ourselves so that as we
enter the New Year we will be 're-born', cleansed of all wrongdoings comitted
in the previous year. According to the Bagawad Gita ( a Hindu holy scripture),
in the life of humankind there are two opposing tendencies: towards the
good and towards the bad. Kedewaan, tending towards the good leterally
means 'having qualities like the deities' where people try to be good and
honest and overtime come closer to God. Keraksasaan, tending towards the
bad means 'having demon-like qualities' where people work against dharma
(truth) and grow further and further away from God.
How do such tendencies
arise in human beings? According to Hinduism, human beings were created
through the joining of Purusa (soul) and Pradana (matter). When soul and
matter met they resulted in human beings born with Chitta (positive characteristics)
and klesa (negative characteristics).
There are five sorts of
Klesa or negative characteristics (a bit like the western concept of the
seven deadly sins): Awidia (stupidity), Asmita (egoism and arrogance),
Raga (desire), Dwesa (anger and revenge), and Abhiniwesa (fear).
Ironically, the most frightening
thing in life is, in fact, death, and yet it is the one thing that certain.
Timorous people always feel threatened, because they are afraid of death,
they attack everything that threatens their life. Thus, human beings will
suffer if they are under the power of Klesa. If, however, Chitta can control
Klesa, it can transform it into a power to support Chitta. Human beings
will then be encouraged to act and behave well.
Thus, Nyepi is a ceremony
to remind people to keep Klesa away and to cultivate the characteristics
of Chitta. I Ketut Wiana.