Hindu community solemnly observes Day of Seclusion

Bali customs security officer or Pecalang patrolling the international airport I Gusti Ngurah Rai during Hindu Seclusion Day or Nyepi Saka year 1939. (ANTARA/Panji Anggoro)

Followers of Hinduism in Indonesia abandoned their routine activities and solemnly observed the Hindu Day of Seclusion on Tuesday to welcome the Saka New Year 1939.

For instance, in Jakarta, members of the Hindu community visited shrines and were seen deeply engrossed in offering prayers in silence at the Rawamangungs Pura Aditya Jaya shrine in East Jakarta. All corners of the shrine were decorated in white and yellow colors.

Clad in Balinese traditional attire, devout Hindus who just arrived at the shrine directly knelt down, bowing their heads, joining their hands, and raising them while offering prayers.

Solitude is the dominant nuance in observing the day of seclusion. Thus, some Hindus visiting the shrine laid prostrate or encircled the shrine while reading a book.

Indeed, quietness is the essence of the day of silence observed every year. This is in line with prohibitions that should be observed during the catur brata seclusion.

After a procession ritual, some approached the shrine to take rest, while others went to their homes along with family members.

Earlier, before the Catur Brata seclusion ritual was held at the shrine, the Hindus also held the Tawur Agung Kesanga procession, where they carried giant Ogoh-Ogoh puppets that symbolize the evil spirit and bad creatures that disturb human life.

During the Tawur Agung Kesanga parade, they prayed for protection from the gods and conveyed their gratitude for being also allowed to perform dances, such as the mask and Siwa Nata Raja, to welcome the gods.

Ogoh-Ogoh are paraded during the Pengrupukan night, which is a day before the Saka New Year, or so called the Nyepi Day or the Day of Seclusion. During this day, silence must be observed during the Tapa Brata ritual.

Tapa Brata covers the observance of silence through the rituals of amati karya, or abstain from work and other activities; amati geni, or abstain from turning on the lights; amati lelungan, or avoid traveling; and amati lelanguan, or abstain from lust and entertainment.

Hence, during the day of seclusion, Bali, Indonesias predominantly Hindu populated province, observed a noise-free day.

The Indonesian tourist resort island, with a population of 4.3 million and thousands of tourists, remained quiet and tranquil on Tuesday during the Tapa Brata ritual.

Antara correspondent reported from Tabanan District and Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali, that the provinces Hindu followers chose to stay indoors to perform the Tapa Brata seclusion ritual and to introspect for 24 hours from 6 a.m. Central Indonesian Standard Time (WITA).

Bali, notably its provincial capital Danpasar, which is usually noisy and crowded with daily traffic jams, turned totally quiet and tranquil as though it were an unpopulated island.

Roads and alleys appeared deserted apart from the presence of several "pecalang," or customary village security officials, who stood guard at the road sections and the ends of alleys.

A deserted look was also noticed at the Perumnas Monang-Maning housing complex, a settlement area that is home to some 2.5 thousand families, in Denpasar.

"This morning, the weather is clear after the rain fell from 2 to 5 a.m. local time. We can only hear the chirping of the birds in the neighborhoods where the residents keep birds in their cages," Ketut, a local resident, remarked.

The same could also be witnessed in almost all villages in the districts of Marga and Tabanan, where the villagers also enjoyed the quietude. Foreign tourists who are on a holiday, coinciding with the Hindu Day of Silence in Bali, are only allowed to carry out activities in areas around their hotels.

The harmonious life and co-existence on the seclusion day are observed in accordance with the agreement and calls of the interfaith council in Bali for the successful implementation of the Holiday of Seclusion.

"The joint calls signed by leaders of the interfaith council were approved by the Bali governor, regional police, and military leaders," I. Komang Giriyasa, spokesman of the Bali office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs noted.

Earlier on Mar 24, Chairman of Balis High Council of Customary Villages Jero Gede Suwena Putus Upades had called on foreign and local tourists as well as several other visitors to not visit Bali on the Hindu Day of Silence.

"Tourists or other visitors who plan to holiday in Bali have been requested to move forward or delay their arrival by a day, as on (Mar 28), no means of transportation will be operational," he remarked.

No modes of air, land, and sea transportation will operate for 24 hours, starting 6 a.m. on Mar 28 until 6 a.m. WITA the next day.

Balis six seaports of Benoa in Denpasar, Celukan Bawang in Buleleng, Gilimanuk connecting Bali to Java, Padangbai connecting Bali with West Nusa Tenggara, Tanah Ampo in Karangasem, and Nusa Penida in Kungkung will halt their activities during the Hindu Day of Silence.

The Ngurah Rai International Airport will also be closed for all flights, domestic or international, during the Hindu Day of Silence on Mar 28, Upades added.

Twelve flights from the Juanda airport in Surabaya, East Java, to Bali were cancelled on Tuesday for the observance of Hindu Seclusion Day.

Legal And Communication Section Head of PT Angkasa Pura I Juanda airport operator Anomg Fitranggono stated on Monday that flights will be cancelled due to the 24-hour closure of Balis Ngurah Rai airport on Tuesday.

"Based on data that we received, 12 flights from Juanda to Bali will be cancelled on Seclusion Day," he stated.

"The airline companies are Citilink operating four flights, Lion Air operating four flights, Nam Air operating one flight, and Garuda operating three flights," he added.

In the meantime, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) called on the public to give substance to the Hindu Day of Seclusion with spirit and optimism.
(Antara)

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