Every religion or culture all over the world has their own way to define and celebrate their new year.
While most people around the world mark a New Year in festive revelry, the Balinese, in contrast, start their special day in silence.
Nyepi (Day of Silence) falls this year on March 23, is the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox to open the new year of the Saka Hindu calendar.
The name Nyepi comes from the root word “sepi” meaning quiet or silent. Although it is a national holiday enjoyed by all Indonesians throughout the country, Nyepi is celebrated in particular on the island of Bali where the majority of the inhabitants follow the Hindu religion.
The rituals actually begin two days before Nyepi with the Melasti ceremony. On this day hundreds of people from each village carry temple artifacts to beaches for purification. The people wear bright clothes and join in colorful processions starting early in the morning.
The day before Nyepi is known as Tawur Kesanga or Pengerupuk and is the day on which evil spirit are driven away. The villages and neighborhoods are cleaned, food is cooked for 2 days and at dusk people start to bang pots and pans and carry torches through their houses.
Then they go outside joining with others to make fearful sounds and sprinkling rice over the alleyways and roads. Huge monsters with bulging eyes made of bamboo, papier-mâché and cloth and known as ogoh-ogoh are carried through the streets in torch-lit parades.
On Nyepi day the Hindu Balinese refrain from all worldly and physical activities for 24 hours.
Everyone stays inside their homes but they are not supposed to speak to each other, answer the telephone, receive guests, watch TV, listen to the radio or use any appliances.
Lights must not be turned on and no fire may be lit, including stoves for cooking or even lighting a cigarette.
They also refrain from eating and drinking and are not supposed to do any work or engage in any activity. The time should be spent in silent meditation or performing prayers at the house shrine. It is a day of self-control and introspection in order to achieve spiritual purification.
Balinese have many kind of celebrations (some sacred days) but Nyepi is one of the most important of the island’s religious days.
Speaking of Bali, it has so many interesting things to offer to visitors. Not only the beautiful nature, unique culture and lovely people, Bali is also known for its wide range of delightful taste traditional foods.
One of the real Balinese traditional foods is ‘Sate Lilit’. It is made of snapper fillet, prawns, coconut and different kinds of herbs.
‘Sate Lilit’ is probably the most delicious satay you’ll ever encounter.The delicate flavors of the prawn and fish are greatly improved if you can find spears of fresh lemon grass to use as skewers, and if you can cook them over a fire of coconut husks rather than charcoal.
Here’s the recipe from Heinz von Holzen cooking class:
- 300 g (10 oz) skinned boneless snapper fillet
- 300 g (10 oz) raw prawns, peeled
- 2 cups freshly grated coconut, or 1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut, moistened
- 1/2 cup spice paste for seafood
- 5 fragrant lime leaves, cut in hair-like shreds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, finely crushed
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3-5 green bird’s-eye chillies, very finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- lemon grass, cut in 15 cm (6 in) length, or satay skewers
Combine snapper fillet (or other firm white fish) with prawns and mince very finely in a food processor or with a chopper. Add all other ingredients and mix. well.
Mold a heaped tablespoon of this mixture around over trimmed stalks of lemon grass or around a wooden skewer and grill over charcoal until golden brown.
It is important to use fresh prawns and fish for this dish as thawed frozen seafood exudes too much moisture. The brown sugar not only adds a touch of sweetness but helps give the slightly charred exterior typical of Balinese satay.
And here’s the look of Balinese ‘Sate Lilit’