I Made Rai Suparta, 56, who left Bali for Jakarta in 1977 and has stayed in the capital ever since, said the city brought new meaning to the sacred day.
“Nyepi in Bali is conducted en masse, people often see it only as a ritual,” he said. “It is true that Bali is more conducive [in observing Nyepi], but based on my experience, people do not implement [the rituals] in full.”
During Nyepi, Hindus should conduct catur brata (the four abstinences), which consist of amati geni (not lighting fires, which are interpreted as anger), amati karya (not working, to contemplate one’s behavior over the past year), amati lelungan (not traveling) and amati lelanguan (refraining from having fun).
Rai said that after living in Jakarta, he carried out introspection wholeheartedly and calmed himself to contemplate events over the past year, while trying to make resolutions for things that could be improved in the next.
The father of two said the biggest challenge was the temptation that arose from within.
“Strong commitment is really needed to survive the temptation [to not perform the abstinences],” he said on the sidelines of preparation for a Melasti ceremony at Aditya Jaya Temple in East Jakarta.
Melasti is a ceremony to cleanse temples of negative energy, along with their sacred objects. In the process, seawater is usually used as it is considered the most sacred.
Hindus in Greater Jakarta usually hold the ceremony at Segara Temple in Cilincing, North Jakarta.
“The purpose of Nyepi is to find answers from our contemplations,” Rai said.
I Made Agus Irawan, 21, who will observe his fourth Nyepi in Jakarta this year, still struggles to find his peace during the day.
He said the atmosphere of Nyepi in Bali felt more sacred than in Jakarta, because in Bali people celebrated it together. “It is also quieter in Bali,” he added.
Made Agus said he sometimes had difficulty concentrating on observing Nyepi if the environment around him was noisy, such as in his rented room in the city.
For him, the challenge was fasting among people who were not observing Nyepi.
“It’s the same situation when Muslims in Bali fast for a month, I guess,” he said with a smile.
For Nyepi, Hindus must also fast for 24 hours and some forbid themselves from speaking.
“The hardest thing is I cannot be with my family,” said Made Agus.
Anom Ardamana Wirotama, 27, said observing Nyepi in a minority gave him a new insight into the sacred day. He said he discovered more meaning to Nyepi and the noise motivated him to perform the abstinences more solemnly.
He said people who did not fast and the noisy environment did not matter, with the important thing being how he conducted the ritual.
“It’s quite a funny scene. My house is the only house in the dark, with all the lights off the whole day,” he said.
Anom said the bigger challenge came from the inner self, not the surrounding environment.
“People not fasting should not be the reason [to not fast]. Hindus should be tolerant because we share the world together with others,” he said.