Nyepi Day in Bali is a New Year celebration unlike anywhere else on the planet. Unlike other cultures that celebrate New Year with vivacious and loud festivities, the pinnacle of Balinese New Year is a day of complete Silence. Hence the name Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” in the local language, which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox.
It’s ultimately the quietest day of the year, when all of the island’s inhabitants abide by a set of local rules. These bring all routine activities to a complete halt. Roads all over Bali are void of any traffic and nobody steps outside of their home premises.
Nyepi is a day fully dedicated to connect oneself more closely with God (Hyang Widi Wasa) through prayers and at the same time as a day of self-introspection to decide on values, such as humanity, love, patience, kindness, and others, that should be kept forever.
The unique day of silence marks the turn of the Saka calendar of western Indian origin. It’s one among the many calendars assimilated by Indonesia’s diverse cultures. The Saka is also among two calendars that are jointly used in Bali. The Saka is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar, and follows a lunar sequence. Nyepi follows after a new moon, and the dates vary from year to year.
Before the Silence Before ‘the silence’, highlight rituals essentially start three days prior to Nyepi, with colourful processions known as the Melasti pilgrimages. Pilgrims from various village temples all over Bali convey heirlooms on long walks towards the coastlines where elaborate purification ceremonies take place. It is one of the best times to capture on camera the iconic Balinese processions in motion, as parasols, banners and small effigies offer a cultural spectacle.
Village meeting halls known as ‘banjar’ and streets feature papier-mâché effigies called ogoh-ogoh. They are built throughout the weeks leading up to the Saka New Year. Youth groups design and build their mythical figures with intricately shaped and tied bamboo framework before many layers of artwork. These artistic creations are offshoots of the celebration. Much of it has stayed on to become an inseparable element in the island-wide celebration that’s Nyepi Eve.
Then on Saka New Year’s Eve, it is all blaring noise and merriment. Every Balinese household starts the evening with blessings at the family temple and continues with a ritual called the pengrupukan where each member participates in ‘chasing away’ malevolent forces, known as bhuta kala, from their compounds – hitting pots and pans or any other loud instruments along with a fiery bamboo torch. These ‘spirits’ are later manifested as the ogoh-ogoh to be paraded in the streets. As the street parades ensue, bamboo cannons and occasional firecrackers fill the air with flames and smoke. The Nyepi Eve parade usually starts at around 19:00 local time.
However on Nyepi Day, complete calm enshrouds the island. The Balinese Hindus follow a ritual called the Catur Brata Penyepian, roughly the ‘Four Nyepi Prohibitions’. These include:
- amati geni or ‘no fire’
- amati lelungan or ‘no travel’
- amati karya ‘no activity’
- amati lelanguan ‘no entertainment’
Some consider it a time for total relaxation and contemplation, for others, a chance for Mother Nature to ‘reboot’ herself after a year of human pestering. No lights are turned on at night – total darkness and seclusion goes along with this new moon island-wide, from 06:00 to 06:00. No motor vehicles whatsoever are allowed on the streets, except ambulances and police patrols and emergencies. Traditional community watch patrols or pecalang enforce the rules of Nyepi, patrolling the streets by day and night in shifts.
Mauni Amavasya, also known as ‘Mauna Amavasya’ is a unique Hindu tradition observed on the ‘amavasya’ (no moon day) during the Hindu month of ‘Magha’. It falls during the month of January-February as per the Gregorian calendar.
As name suggests it is the day of silence in Hinduism when people take pledge to observe one day fasting by not uttering a word throughout the day. It is believed that the water of the most sacred and holy river in Hinduism, the Ganga, turns into the nectar on Mauni Amavasya day. Due to this belief Mauni Amavasya day is the most important day in Hindu calendar to take holy dip in the Ganges.
If this date falls on Monday, (which it does in 2019), then its auspiciousness increases all the more.
The day is also celebrated as the birthday of Manu rishi. It is believed, Lord Brahma gave origination to Maharaja Manu and queen Shatrupa. Hence, this day is considered as the beginning of the creation of the universe.
Do’s and Don’ts For Today
- Silence is considered auspicious on this day.
- Wake up early in the morning and take a bath while keeping silence.
- Better yet, bathe in a river, lake or sacred pool.
- After bathing, offer Sun (fire) to the God.
- Silence on Mauni Amavas is of particular importance. If it is not possible to remain silent then do not speak bitter words from your mouth.
- In Vedic astrology the moon is said to be the factor of the mind. Restraining the mind by keeping a silence fast strengthens the mind.
- On this day there is also the law of worship of both Lord Vishnu and Shiva.
- The poor and the hungry should definitely have food. Offer food in grains, textiles, sesame, amla, blankets, beds, ghee and cows.
- Donations of gold or land can also be done.
- Remember the ancestors also on Mauni Amavas, this leads them to salvation.
- Both men and women should avoid having physical relations on this day. According to Garuda Purana, children born with sexual relation on the Mauni Amavas may have to face many kinds of problems in life.
- Men and women should avoid arguments. This brings an atmosphere of unrest to the house. It always gives birth to negative power.
- At the same time, one should remain silent on this day and worship God.
- Do not insult the poor and helpless. According to beliefs, Shani Dev represents the poor. In such a situation, Shani Dev does not bless the person who insults the poor.
- The worship of the Banyan Tree (Peepal) on the new moon day is considered to be auspicious and fruitful.
- It is considered inauspicious to touch a Banyan Tree on a day other than Saturday. So worship on Mauni Amavasya, but do not touch it.
- Do not go to the graveyard, negative powers are active on the night of the new moon.
Collected from various sources
Agathos Daimon means “good spirit” and is a religious observance held on the second day of each lunar month, immediately following the Noumenia. It is the third celebration of a trio of household monthly observances. A good spirit usually refers to a type of divine being that is less powerful than a God, is personal to each family, and can bring the family good luck, protection, or some type of assistance. Household spirits are usually seen as either snakes or as a young man with a horn of plenty in hand.
More about this spirit can be found at The Powers That Be:
Some celebrate the Agathos Diamon by pouring a libation to the spirit and asking for his continued blessings on the family. If there is something in particular that your family wishes help with, give an additional offering to your family’s protective spirit. Although we know we can always approach the Gods directly, the Agathoi Diamones are seen to be helpful intermediaries between the Gods and man.
The second day of every Athenian month was also a sacred day, devoted to the Agathos Daimon (good spirit). The name daimon does not mean the evil demon of modern Christianity, (although it did have a negative form, called the kakodaimon), but was thought to be an aspect of Zeus, as Zeus Ktesios, Charitodotes, and Epikarpios, titles as giver of increase and joy.
Agathos Daimon is most often represented in the form of a snake, a symbol of healing. However the daimon is also a function of one’s being, a characteristic inherently neither good nor bad. The philosopher Sokratēs talks of his own daimon as a small voice which speaks to him and warns him to refrain from certain actions.
Hence, one prays for a good daimon, an eudaimon, and goodness from the gods for the coming month and also for the favor of father Zeus as Agathos Daimon.
- One must be on good terms with it. ~Burkert.
- The daimon active about me I will always consciously put to rights with me by cultivating him according to my means. ~Pindar
- The great mind of Zeus steers the daimon of the men whom he loves. ~Pythagoras
Many modern Hellenes follow the practice of pouring a libation to their own Agathos Daimon on the second day of the lunar month. Possible prayers include the Orphic Hymn to the Daimon.
Thee, mighty-ruling, Dæmon dread, I call, mild Zeus, life-giving, and the source of all:
Great Zeus, much-wandering, terrible and strong, to whom revenge and tortures dire belong.
Mankind from thee, in plenteous wealth abound, when in their dwellings joyful thou art found;
Or pass through life afflicted and distressed, the needful means of bliss by thee suppressed.
‘Tis thine alone endowed with boundless might, to keep the keys of sorrow and delight.
O holy, blessed father, hear my prayer, disperse the seeds of life-consuming care;
With favoring mind the sacred rites attend, and grant my days a glorious, blessed end.
Aeschylus in the Suppliant Maidens says: “May Zeus grant that it go well with us. For Zeus’ desire is hard to trace: it shines everywhere, even in gloom, together with fortune obscure to mortal men.” Kleanthēs prays: “Lead me, O Zeus, and thou O Destiny” and also, “If so it pleases the Gods, so let it be.”
Agathos Daimon is also associated with Dionysos, especially with His gift of wine. A feast was often closed with a small drink of unmixed wine, called either Agathos Daimon or Zeus Soter (savior), as though supplicating the god that they may do nothing indecent or have too strong a desire for the drinking, and may receive from it all that is noble and salutary.
Also, whenever you see a snake, give a prayer to Agathos Daimon and even pour a libation. In Hellenistic and Roman times, family ritual areas were often decorated by snakes.
The Noumenia is the first day of the visible New Moon and is held in honor of the household Gods. The Noumenia is also considered the second day in a three day household celebration held each lunar month – Hekate’s Deipnon is on the last day before the first slice of visible moon and is the last day in a lunar month, then the Noumenia which marks the first day in a lunar month, followed by the Agathos Daimon (Good Spirit) on the second day of the Lunar month.
The Noumenia is a celebration of the start of a new Hellenic month and seeks blessings for the household. Offerings such as incense or honey cakes are made to your household Gods at your family altar.
- Here’s a recipe for Ancient Hellenic Honey Cakes.
Traditionally, the household Gods consist of Hestia, Zeus Ktesios, Hermes, Hekate, Apollon Agyieus, your household’s Agathos Diamons and can include any ancestors you honor. However, many Hellenic Polytheists do honor more Gods at their family altar.
You can celebrate the Noumenia with the following rituals:
- Decorate their home with fresh flowers, evergreen branches, or other seasonal decorations.
- Serve a big family meal and eat it at the dining room table.
- Create a list of family goals or projects to get done or start within the next lunar month.
- Bake a special dessert that you only make on this day – such as Honey Cake.
- Like the ancient Athenians, you can burn frankincense and read the Orphic and Homeric hymns to Selēnē.
- Replace the ingredients in the Kadiskos (see below) with fresh water, oil, and fruit, and bits of food.
The Kadiskos is a small jar containing food stuffs that we receive from the Gods and give back in reciprocity. Refreshing the Kadiskos is part of preparing for Noumenia. Here are directions for Making a Kadiskos.
Hellenic worship makes notice of the New Moon, because it marks the beginning of the month, rather than the more obvious full moon, although many Hellenic festivals are held during or near the time of the full moon.
“The first day of the month was new moon day (noumēnia), recognized as a holy day throughout the Greek world. It was so holy that at Athens, no other festival ever took place that day. It was celebrated by a public ritual on the Acropolis and by private offerings of frankincense to statues of the gods.”
Herodotus says that, in Sparta, meat, barley meal and wine were distributed to the citizens by the Kings on the Noumenia.
Hymn To Selene
Orphic Hymn 9 to Selene says that she “Delights in stillness and in the kindly, auspicious night.” Many of the Orphic hymns, and this one especially, reminds us that the arrival and passage of each new month is a reflection of the cycle of lives, with birth following the period of dark death. So as She is “a sure token and a sign to mortal men,” so we can trust in the cycle of rebirth and renewal.
Orphic Hymn 9 ~
Fumigation from Aromatics
Hear, goddess queen (thea basileia), diffusing silver light, bull-horned, and wandering through the gloom of night.
With stars surrounded, and with circuit wide night’s torch extending, through the heavens you ride: female and male, with silvery rays you shine, and now full-orbed, now tending to decline.
Mother of ages, fruit-producing Mene (Moon), whose amber orb makes night’s reflected noon: lover of horses, splendid queen of night, all-seeing power, bedecked with starry light, lover of vigilance, the foe of strife, in peace rejoicing, and a prudent life: fair lamp of night, its ornament and friend, who givest to nature’s works their destined end.
Queen of the stars, all-wise Goddess, hail! Decked with a graceful robe and amble veil.
Come, blessed Goddess, prudent, starry, bright, come, moony-lamp, with chaste and splendid light, shine on these sacred rites with prosperous rays, and pleased accept thy suppliants’ mystic praise.
More Hymns, Prayers, and Invocations can be found at Widdershins.
A Prayer For The Noumenia
In honor of the Noumenia of Anthesterion:
I have seen the moon
thin curved glow
hovering on delicate breeze
divine above the pink horizon
gentle horns pointing
We are all re-born now
owning no past
Yesterday is cleansed
Greetings to you,
Guide us around
the next cycle of life
until we meet again
May we use it wisely
~ by Melissa
The new moon is sacred to the goddess Hekate, and these cakes are ideal for use in rituals honoring her, as well as for Hekate Suppers, or an offering to leave at a crossroads. Many of the ingredients are sacred to the Dark Goddess, additionally there are 3 x 3 ingredients, using the number three which is also sacred to Hekate.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup of soft butter
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp black poppy seeds
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp anise seeds
(If possible use organic ingredients and free-range fertile eggs.) Sift the flour, salt and baking soda together. Cream the butter, honey and egg. Blend the two mixtures together and add the remaining ingredients. Shape into small thin crescent shapes. Place with space between the shapes to allow for spreading during baking on a cool, oiled baking tray.
Bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
~Sue Bowman, Keys to the Crossroads
The Dark of the Moon, those few days where the moon is not visible, just prior to the rebirth of the New Moon, are controversial. Some traditions will not cast spells during this period. Others. particularly those devoted to Dark Moon spirits like Hekate or Lilith, consider this a period of profound magickal power which may be exploited as needed.
In Arabic folk custom, it’s recommended that you keep an eye on moon phases. Whatever you find yourself doing at the moment when you first catch a glimpse of the brand new moon is the right thing for you to do.
More New Moon Lore:
- Almost every culture believed that if the New Moon came on Monday (Moon-day) it was a sign of good weather and good luck.
- Two new moons in one month were said to predict a month’s bad weather.
- Any new moon on a Saturday or Sunday was said to predict rain and general bad luck.
- Good luck will come your way if you first see the New Moon outside and over your right shoulder. You can also make a wish that will be granted. The best luck came from looking at the Moon straight on.
- In some parts of Ireland, upon seeing the New Moon, people bowed or knelt, saying: O Moon, leave us as well as you found us.
- Upon seeing the New Moon, bow to her and turn over the silver or coins in your pocket. This will bring you luck in all your affairs.
- If the New Moon is seen for the first time straight ahead, it predicts good fortune until the next New Moon.
- To encourage luxuriant growth, cut your hair on the New Moon.
- Wood cut at the New Moon is hard to split.
- The English had a saying that if a member of the family died at the time of the New Moon, three deaths would follow.
- Although the Koran expressly forbids worshiping the Sun or Moon, many Muslims still clasp their hands at the sight of a New Moon and offer a prayer.
From: Moon Magick and other sources
Toward the end of March, the people of Tibet had a ceremony to expel the demons of bad luck from their homes, lives, and communities. The people of Bali, which is east of Java, also hold public expulsions of demons at least once a year, and on a new moon.
Each village sets food at the nearest crossroads and then goes to the local temple. Everyone prays and blows horns to summon the demons. Then people begin to bang on anything that will make a loud noise, thus frightening the entities which flee the area.
The demons can’t resist the food, pause at the crossroads, and are ambushed by a priest who curse them. This final ambush causes the evil demons to leave the area, and order is restored.
You can duplicate this ritual at home by leaving food on your front doorstep. The food is not going to come back into your home – so leave it on a paper plate instead of your good china.
Then go through the house, calling and whistling to summon the demons. You will want to sound very musical and inviting. Flutes and pan pipes were often used for this purpose.
When you have gone through every room of your home, and you feel that you have attracted the attention of every bad spirit in your home, suddenly begin banging on pots and pans making a loud noise. Have someone stationed at the door, and when the loud noise begins, have them open the door.
The noise will frighten them, but the bad luck entities of the house won’t be able to resist stopping for the food. Now, use this charm to send them packing:
Off with you spirits of fear, spirits of poverty, spirits of evil, spirits of anger, spirits of unhappiness, spirits of pain, spirits of death.
(You can add to this list and personalize it as much as you’d like.)
Repeat three times – each time louder and more commanding than the last.
Give way to the sun, and the moon,
For this is a sanctuary,
This is a place made safe.
Repeat three times – starting with a loud commanding voice and then diminishing in volume but increasing in determination.
Now, very dramatically and decisively, shut the door and lock it. Say:
Blessings and peace upon us,
Blessings and peace.
Repeat three times – smiling.
Do not bring the food you left on the doorstep back into the house, rather, take it away and leave it in a dumpster or put it by a crossroads not close to your home.
Note: This post was put together by Shirley Twofeathers for Gypsy Magic, and has been moved to my new website, here at shirleytwofeathers.com. You may repost and share without karmic repercussions only if you give me credit and a link back to this website. Blessed be.