Update on Nyepi, rabies, and a cultural comment

Nyepi:

Balinese Nyepi, or Day of Silence, falls on 5th March. I think everybody pretty much knows the drill by now—stay indoors from sunrise on March 5 to sunrise March 6, don’t let any light shine out of your windows, don’t make any noises, and if you happen to have a view of the surf and it is going off, too bad.

It used to be in years past that one could sneak off early for a surf and then plead ignorance if caught by the pecalang guards, and pay a fine, but these days I wouldn’t be pushing my luck. We should be respectful of local religious custom, especially such an important one, in the first place. But among the Balinese, concerned about the continual onslaught from other peoples and cultures (and a laxness & greed among their own) there is a growing trend toward a stricter religious conservatism, with emotions to match.

Each year, the Balinese Hindu authorities add another “no-no” to the Nyepi list. This year, they want all radio and television broadcasts halted for 24 hours, and for hotels to not put on entertainment programs. I’m not sure that the satellite broadcast companies will block their signals, but you might want to stock up on DVDs (and keep the volume down). Or, indulge in that old-fashioned activity called reading a book.

Come on in, the ocean is fine:

The other week I read another article on Balinese culture that parrots the common misconception that the Balinese fear the ocean as an unclean and dangerous place. This is simply not true. To the Balinese, the ocean is a place of exceptional cleanliness and purity*, which is why you see processions to the beach for ceremonial cleansing of sacred temple artifacts and as part of cremation rites.

* In in spiritual sense. The most devout Balinese fisherman, who continually catches the Great White Plastic Bag, knows the ocean in the physical sense is becoming increasingly polluted.

Rabies:

Despite a mass vaccination program for both home and street dogs, rabies is still around, killing people. Over 800 dog bites reported in Gianyar regency (home to Keramas) in January alone, almost double last years’ monthly average. HOWEVER, as it is said, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. This statistic isn’t necessarily alarming–I don’t think that all of a sudden more dogs are biting people, but that more people, aware of the dangers of dog bites, are seeking treatment.

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