The upcoming month of March is a very important one on the Balinese Saka calendar. It’s time for Nyepi, the colourful pre-Nyepi Melasti pilgrimages and Hari Ngembak Gni, the Balinese version of Thanksgiving, the Kissing Festival and more merriment.
Four Sides – Group Art Exhibition – Now through March 15
The Maya Sanur Resort & Spa in Sanur is showcasing an exhibition by four Balinese artists featuring works from I Kadek Darmanegara, an abstract painter who draws his inspiration from nature’s colourful and dramatic manifestations, I Wayan Juni Antara whose compositions focus on people and ornamental backgrounds, I Nyoman Arisana who stays close to the Balinese Kamasan style, and I Made Jendra paying homage to Balinese dancers and incorporating symbolism and cultural values in his compositions.
When : Daily from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm
Where : The Maya Resort & Spa, JL Danau Tamblingan No. 89, Sanur
More info : +62-(0)36108497800 :
Indo-Sri Lanka Artist Exchange Program at ARMA Museum – 28 February to 4 March
The ARMA museum is hosting a unique artist exchange program exhibiting selected works of 6 leading Indonesian artists and 4 Sri Lankan upcoming artists. The program is a concept of renowned Indonesian artist Antonius Kho who heads up the Indonesian group and of Sri Lankan International Artist Chathuranga Biyagama who leads the Sri Lankan team. The project seeks to develop the Contemporary Art opportunities between the two countries. In the first stage of this program, the Indonesian and Sri Lankan artists were showcased in a group art exhibition at Lionel Wendt Gallery in Colombo last month. In the second stage of this program, the 4 Sri Lankan Artists will be exhibiting their art work together with that of the 6 Indonesian artists at the Arma Museum in Ubud. The event will be inaugurated by Mr. Agung Rai, founder of the ARMA at 5 pm on 28 February.
When : Thursday 28 February to 4 March
Where : ARMA Museum, JL Pengosekan, Ubud
Nyepi Photography Workshop with David Metcalf – 4 to 6 March
Well known cultural photographer David Metcalf will be hosting a special three day photography workshop. You have the option of joining all three days, or just one day or two. The workshop is designed to challenge you as a photographer, teach you new skills and techniques under the watchful guidance of professional photographers, capture some amazing images and give you a great insight into Balinese culture at a very special time of the year. As part of the course you will be taken to some unique places to witness and photograph a Melasti ceremony at the beach, an Ogoh Ogoh parade of huge, colourful, creatures, the fire fighting in a traditional village on the night before Nyepi, and other memorable glimpses of rural Balinese life.
When : Monday 4 March through Wednesday 6 March, 6 am to 8 pm
Cost : For fees and more info, contact email@example.com
Melasti – Monday 4 March
Three days prior to Nyepi marks the tradition of Melasti when Hindu pilgrims from all over Bali will make their way to the closest beach in colourful processions to bring their temple’s effigies for elaborate purification ceremonies. It is one of Bali’s most iconic cultural traditions and offers a great spectacle in motion, complete with parasols, banners, colourful palanquins transporting the effigies and accompanying gamelan music. This is also the most busy time on the roads so be prepared for lengthy delays as these processions get absolute priority and right of way.
Saka New Year’s Eve/Ogoh-Ogoh Festivals – Wednesday 6 March
Nyepi, the Balinese Saka New Year’s Day, falls on 7 March this year and is the day of silence, contemplation and prayer. People are confined to their houses and no one is allowed on the streets. However, the night before, on Saka New Year’s Eve, the celebrations go all-out and people are having a good time with lots of noise and merriment. It starts in the evening when in every Balinese household the family participates in a ritual called the ‘pengrupukan’ where each member helps to chase away the ‘bhuta kala’ (malevolent forces) from every corner in their compounds with a burning bamboo torch, all the while hitting pots and pans or any other loud implements. Supposedly, these spirits will seek refuge into the ogoh-ogoh, those giant puppets painstakingly built by the banjar young people to be paraded in the streets and later torched in a giant bonfire. A lot of the villages will host street parades and contests which usually start at around 7pm. It’s an evening for rejoicing, partying and admiring the creativity and resourcefulness of the Balinese youngsters.
Nyepi/ Balinese New Year Saka 1941 – Thursday 7 March
The Saka calendar follows the lunar cycles and is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar but it is slowly catching up as the lunar year is shorter than the Gregorian year by about 10 days. Nyepi follows after a new moon (Tilem) and the new year always begins on the first day of the 10th lunar month. Nyepi Day is a day of silence and calm and the Balinese Hindus follow a ritual observing the prohibitions of ‘no fire’, ‘no travel’, ‘no activity’, and ‘no entertainment’. On the night of the new moon no lights are allowed and the entire island remains in total darkness and seclusion throughout Nyepi and until 6 am the following day. No motor vehicles are allowed on the streets, except ambulances and police patrols and emergencies. Tourists and hotel guests are also confined to their villa or hotel premises. This is strictly enforced by the ‘pecalang’, the community guards who will be patrolling the streets by day and night.
Hari Ngembak Geni/ Omed-Omedan – Friday 8 March
The day after Nyepi is Ngembak Geni, a local holiday in Bali when families traditionally visit each other. It is also the day of the famous ‘omed-omedan’, in the village of Sesetan in southern Denpasar for the festival of smooches, more kindly known as the Kissing Festival. This is a very local event, only happening in the Sesetan Banjar Kaja community and is apparently more than 100 years old. Young people face each other and form two groups with boys opposing the girls. Successive boy-girl pairs are hoisted on the shoulders of their team mates and are pushed and shoved in a tug-of-war-like scene. When they meet they embrace, all in a riotous tumble of shouts, while being doused with buckets of water. In Balinese, the word ‘Omed Omed’ means pull and pull. The event is essentially a kissing ritual between the boys and girls of the village. According to the locals, the spiritual aspect of this ritual is that the pull and pull represent the taking of positive energy and the letting out the negative energy.
When : Friday 8 March from 2 pm
Where : Banjar Kaja , Sesetan, south of Denpasar
By Ines Wynn
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