When we mention “Nyepi,” it often conjures images of silence, the Balinese New Year celebration, the famous ogoh-ogoh processions, and most notably, the prohibition of travel or leaving one’s home. While Nyepi indeed encompasses these aspects, it goes beyond just a single day of welcoming the Balinese New Year, Caka. Nyepi also extends to the rice fields, with events such as Nyepi Abian (a day of field abstention) and Nyepi Subak/Sawah (lasting one to three days without work in the rice fields). These events share deep roots in local traditions emphasizing the importance of allowing Mother Nature time to recover without human intervention.
The Significance of Rice Fields in Nyepi
The rice fields, regarded as a source of life and a place of worship for the goddess of fertility (Goddess Sri), have become interconnected with the Nyepi Subak ceremony. The purpose is to repel pests (Nangluk Mrana) from the fields. These rituals are not merely symbolic but believed to work magically, purifying and restoring cosmic balance, a mystical return known as ‘somya.’ Nyepi Subak serves a dual purpose: it acts as a ruwat (ritual purification) and seeks fertility for the land, making it an appeal for protection from pests. Nyepi Subak, also known as Nyepi Sawah, takes place after planting, guided by the subak’s schedule. During Nyepi Subak in Melinggih Kelod, farmers are strictly prohibited from working in the fields between 6 AM and 6 PM. Violating these rules may lead to ceremonial offerings, known as “Banten caru” or “pecaruan.”
A Universal Message: Rest and Balance
Though the Nyepi ceremonies may vary in location and timing, their core significance remains consistent. They revolve around the control of Bhuana Agung and Bhuana Alit, the macrocosm and microcosm, and provide a moment for all beings to breathe, rest, and regain balance.