Flora & Fauna
Volume 88 | May 2012
insidesumatera.com | tourism & lifestyle magazine -
Nyepi on Seputih River
Selasa, 23 Agustus 2011 | 14:30:05
Nyepi on Seputih River
by. Christian Heru Cahyo Saputro
It is a beautiful, bright morning, the sun beats down onto the shores of the River Seputih. Scores of penjor ( long tapered bamboo poles that are stood vertically in the ground, often on the roadside, and decorated in coconut leaves- symbolizing Mount Agung) with typical Balinese colour wave in the wind. Pratima (sacred, ritually cleansed objects for the Hindu community) and ubo rampe (ritual tools) have been set up neatly along the shore.
Hundreds of members of the Hindu community wearing Balinese traditional costumes stand in rows. The sound of gamelan from East Bali completes the Balinese atmosphere here. The River Seputih has suddenly been transformed into a part of Bali.
The Antasena Dock in Bratasena Adiwarna Village in Dente Teladas District, located on the shores of the River Way is festive in March 2011. On a daily basis however, the dock only sees the routine loading and unloading from ships and boats from Sadewa, a village on the boarder of Lampung Tengah Province.
On this very morning, the Hindu community of Dente Teledas, Tulangbawang are celebrating the melasti ritual. The melasti, also known as the melis, or makiyis ceremony, is one of the rituals performed to welcome Nyepi.
The year 2011 coincides with the new year of Saka 1933. The commemoration of the New Year itself is meaningful as a day of renewal, unity, tolerance, peace and harmony.
The Saka New Year in Indonesia is commemorated by performing nyepi or sipeng (seclusion) for 24 hours. Hundreds of Hindu from Bratasena Adiwarna Village, Lebung Gajah, all over Bali, and Krawang Baru in order to prepare for the melasti ritual. Mangku I Nyoman Sunardiana from Jagat Menala Temple lead the ceremony in the village of Bratasena Adiwarna.
The melasti ritual is a religious spiritual prosession for the Hindu community which is performed in order to cleanse the universe from dirt and evil. The previous 1 year of built- up bad karma caused by intrigue, lust and other evil is cleansed by this ceremony. Not only the universe, but each member of the Hindu community must cleanse, or purify himself and his community.
The melasti ritual is one part of the prosess leading up to the Nyepi celebration. Melasti itself is performed in order to cleanse oneself (bhuana alit) and the universe (bhuana agung). Before performing tapa brata, a method of cleansing the spirit at Nyepi, lead by a pemangku, the Hindus pray together and prepare various offerings for their God Baruna or the Ruler of the Sea. Apart from cleansing oneself, melasti is also performed in order to cleanse various sacred temple objects such as pratima, pralingga and nyasa
The cleansing procession usually goes in the direction of the sea (segara). This is because water is believed to have originated from the sea, and water is the source of life. Sang Hyang Ajiswamandala is called to angayutaken laraning jagat, paklesa letuhing bhuvana, (in order to wash away the suffering of the people and the dirt of the world or nature). Meanwhile in the
Sundarigama, it says “amet sarining amartha kamandalu ritenging samudra” (holy water of life is obtained in the midst of the oceans).
The melasti ritual is performed at the source of holy water, in the Vedas it says “apam napatam paritasthur apah” (water from springs or the sea has the strength to purify). It is based on this, that the sea is seen as the source of life, and is believed to purify all uncleanliness caused by human greed.
However, melasti doesn’t have to be performed at the sea. Other sources of water such as rivers are chosen for this ritual which is begun with the matu piuning ritual. The Dente Teladas District is quite far away from the sea, so that the melasti ritual is usually performed on the shores of the Seputih River. “If there is no sea, it can be performed at a river. The important thing is good intentions. It doesn’t reduce the purifying nature of the religious ceremony,” explained the Head of Parisadha Hindu in Dente Teladas, Wijiono.
Wijiono also added that the melasti ritual is performed in order to persuade the Hindu community to protect the environment. At the end of the melasti ritual, the Hindus cleanse themselves symbolically by dipping their feet into the river and float offerings and set free animals such as ducks and chickens in the middle of the river.
After returning from the melasti, mecaru is performed at every crossing in the village. The mecaru ritual is performed in order to balance the macro and microcosms and is hoped to provide peace and equality.
After the mecaru, it is continued with the ngerupuk ritual in every household in order to cleanse the environment from the influence of evil spirits (bhuta kala). Recently this ritual has been accompanied by ogoh-ogoh (the symbol of bhuta kala) as an expression of art and culture.
After that the nyepi ritual is performed, which involves 4 taboos catur brata. The 4 things that are not allowed to be done during nyepi are amati geni (not lighting fire), amati karya (not working), amati lelungan (not going out), dan amati lelanguan (no entertainment). After nyepi is over, it is followed by the ngembak geni ritual, and only after this the Hindu community can carry out their daily activities. These activities are precluded by mesima krama (discussions) in the family, with neighbours and on a larger scale too.
The end of Nyepi is signalized by the dharma santi ritual which is performed in order to safeguard good relationships amongst the Hindu community. This ritual is obligatory within the family, within the neighbourhood and others. Dharma Santi involves forgiving one another for any mistakes or misunderstandings that have occurred, at least those occurring in the past year. Because of this, dharma santi can be performed wherever and whenever throughout the month following Nyepi.
Nyepi is time for self-reflection and self-controll. Dharma Santi is a dialogue with fellow humans in order to balance inner and outer life. In other words, the Saka New Year is a time for the Hindu community to refresh their spirits and renewal. Happy Nyepi in the
New Saka Year 1933. Om ano bhadrah kratawo yantu wiswatah (May all good thoughts come from all directions).
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