Ritual before day of silence

Every year, for a whole day, all goes quiet on Indonesia's tourist paradise, Bali - the island of the gods.

But before the holy day of Nyepi - the annual day of silence - comes around, the Balinese, who are largely Hindus, take part in a purification ceremony called Melasti.

Balinese Hindus yesterday descended in droves on the island's beaches, as they have done every year for centuries, to perform the Melasti ritual, ahead of Nyepi on Wednesday.

The ceremony consists of a procession of followers making their way to the sea or a water source, as Balinese Hindus believe that these places can purify all elements, including sacred ones.

They conduct prayers, perform rituals and make offerings in the belief that these will cleanse them of past sins. They also pray for good fortune in the year ahead.

In Gianyar, in the eastern part of the island, islanders yesterday threw ducks into the ocean as part of a sacrificial ritual performed during Melasti.

Nyepi is a day of silence to celebrate the Balinese new year, and is reserved for self-reflection. People are not allowed to use lights, light fires, work, travel or enjoy any form of entertainment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Ritual before day of silence'. Print Edition | Subscribe