Malesti and Nyepi Day

On the second day of my Bali trip, I was at Ulun Danu Beratan Temple when this special purification named Malesti, the biggest purification ritual done by the Balinese Hindu people was performed. The temple is still open for the public to visit, so it has been a great opportunity for me to witness and observe how they perform the ritual ceremony. It is also known as Melis or Mekiis and held 3 days before Silence Day or Nyepi Day in March or April each year.

The Malesti ceremony is a purification of Buana Alit (human body) and Buana Agung (the earth and the creatures).  The purpose is to cleanse the human body and the entire earth from bad influences, bad deeds and bad thoughts. They used the water as the cleansing element in their belief.

The Balinese traditional instrument (Gamelan) is sounded during the parade procession with the priest leading the villagers to the beach. Villagers living afar from the seaside will make their way by trucks. All god symbols are purified during the ritual process, later carried back to the temple and keep it sacred. Every Balinese Hindu people will go to the temple for worshipping to get the prosperity and peace for the entire world.

When I arrive at the temple, there are groups of people from different villages gathering around and waiting for their turn to get cleansed and the blessing from the priest. They dress in beautiful kebaya, sarongs, and udengs. The gamelan was also used in the temple with the clangs, bangs, and clashes added into the atmosphere to drive out the devils and spiritually clean their place.

The women will carry tall offerings of fruits, cooked rice, and natural foods on their heads. As for men, they will walk along holding a long sheet of yellow and white cloth, that symbolizes the Bridge of God. The ceremonies continue to last until early evening and are intended for the whole village.

I will be flying back home the day before Nyepi Day . Bali Airport will be closed from 6 am on the day of the ceremony to the next day at 6 am. Therefore, there will be no inbound or outbound flights on the island.

The roads will start to close from 10 am for the Nyepi ritual tomorrow. Shopping malls, tourist spots, bars, restaurants, and beaches will be closed as well. Local people also begin their journey back home to make the preparation with their families. For those who do not practice Hinduism or this ritual, they will travel to Java island via ferry to avoid the road congestion

We drive past the streets of Kuta towards the airport and saw a statue of the huge monsters displayed outside one of the temples. My guide said there are called Ogoh-ogoh, a mythical giant Bhuta Kala which symbolizes evil. Such statues will be carried through the streets in torch-lit parades and later burnt to ashes in a cemetery as a symbol of self-purification on the eve of Nyepi Day.

Nyepi is calculated according to the Caka lunar calendar and falls at the time of the new full moon in March or April each year. The name ‘Nyepi’ is originated from “Sepi”, which means quiet or silent. Hindu Balinese people are prohibited from any physical activities for 24 hours. They have to stay in their homes and not receive any guests or engage in any sort of entertainment.

They will practice yoga semedi and four abstinences (catur berata penyepian). Therefore, they are refrain from lighting fire and using lights (amati geni), working (amati karya), any leisure activities (amati lelanguan) and traveling outside the house (amati lelungan). They spend a day in silent meditation or perform prayers at the house shrine or merajan in order to achieve spiritual purification.

The streets of Bali are deserted with only a few community security officers walking and checking to ensure that Nyepi is properly observed. Tourists who happen to be here on Nyepi Day must remain inside their hotel complexes where activities can still take place as usual. Hotel staff or their accommodation hosts will assist to prepare their daily meals during the stay. Visitors need to follow and respect the traditions of the local people and resume their activities the next day. After Nyepi Day, the Balinese Hindu people can enjoy going out to visit family, friends and relatives to seek forgiveness for their past mistakes.

Don’t miss out on my 4-days adventure story in Bali (Click here). Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations for its beaches, stunning scenery and rich in culture and history.

Travel Tips

  • Malesti ceremony and Nyepi Day will fall in March or April every year. Do check the calendar if you want to visit and experience this beautiful cultural event.
  • All malls, entertainment outlets, attractions, and Bali airport will be closed on Nyepi Day from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. the next day (24 hours).
  • Tourists also must stay indoors on Nyepi Day in respect and follow the Balinese religion and culture.

Going Elsewhere in Indonesia?

If you want to visit Indonesia or experience something different, you can check out some of my other posts:

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13 thoughts on “Malesti and Nyepi Day”

  1. What an interesting culture on Bali. Although I have read about it here and there, I have not felt that I needed to see it personally till I read your post. Hope to make it next year.


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