Thu, 03 Apr 2003

A day of silence

Amid the turmoil that is currently pervading this country and the world, the Balinese and other Indonesians who adhere to the Hindu Dharma faith across the archipelago, will tomorrow, on April 2, once again be observing Nyepi -- that special day that most international tourists to the island know as the Hindu (Balinese) "day of silence".

In Bali civilian neighborhood wards known as pecalang will guard public places and intersections to make sure that no fires or lights are lit anywhere, no loud noises are made or conversations held, no work is done, nothing amusing occurs and no outings are held.

To the Balinese, and all the other adherents of the Hindu Dharma faith elsewhere, however, those are only the outward aspects of Nyepi. In essence, Nyepi -- the new year of the Saka lunar calendar -- is a day of inward contemplation and introspection, of cleansing one's mind and one's physical body and of striving towards a better life.

It is a day of renewing one's intention to practice tolerance and to resolve problems by peaceful means only, in accordance with the Hindu philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which strives towards a harmonious relationship between man and his creator, towards other human beings and towards the surrounding natural environment. Every year, therefore, Nyepi is faithfully observed on the island of Bali to remind mankind of the ongoing struggle between good and evil and to make sure that dharma, or virtue, which benefits mankind, will always have the upper hand over adharma, or vice.

At present, as the Hindu community commemorate the breaking of the new Saka year, it is well for the whole nation to acknowledge the teachings of peace and tolerance -- not to mention literacy -- that have been brought to these islands in the year 78 A.D. by King Ajisaka, who the Balinese (and tradition-oriented Javanese) believe to have laid the groundwork of not only the Hindu faith on their islands, but of their indigenous culture as well.

Such teachings of peace, virtue and tolerance as expressed in the observance of Nyepi should serve the nation well in these troubled times. It fits the occasion that we wish the Balinese, and all those others who subscribe to the Hindu Dharma faith, a better year ahead and all the happiness that the practice of dharma brings.

Om Shanti.