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Sunday March 31, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 2:20:23 PM
by t. selva
SINCE ancient times, silence has been given importance in all major spiritual practices because it can help to heal and rejuvenate the body.
Observing silence is included as part of the prayer system in most faiths because it is recognised as a necessary factor for our busy lifestyle.
I had one of the most unusual experiences in observing silence for 24 hours with the 3.8 million people of Bali on March 12.
The island is the only place in the world that has respected silence strictly for one day every year for centuries. It closes the airport, ports and roads, disconnects the power, allows no entertainment, everyone stays indoors and the day is declared a public holiday.
Most of the Hindus on the island follow the day, called Nyepi Day, without meals, physical activity or travels and in complete stillness as part of the purification of their space and body, mind and spirit.
I arrived two days earlier to be part of the celebration while many visitors and tourists were rushing to leave the island to avoid the celebration because everything comes to a standstill.
Two days before the actual day, I participated in several ceremonies that were held to prepare the island to observe the special day of quietness.
Temples across the island carried shrines of the ancestral deities in a procession either to the sea or a source of clean water to be purified.
Following this, sacrifices and offerings were performed by holy men at the crossroads in the centre of every village to get rid of evil spirits.
The rituals were performed in order to restore the balance and harmony of the universe, to neutralise the forces of nature and to maintain tranquility.
On the eve of the event, a parade of huge monstrous effigies called ogoh-ogoh took to the streets.
The scary images of the demons were artistic interpretations of malevolent forces and underworld inhabitants from Balinese Hindu mythology.
Every Balinese household began the evening with prayers at the family shrine or temple as well as a ritual to “chase away” the unseen and unkind forces by hitting pots and pans.
The effigies were later set ablaze and reduced to ashes so that the demons and negative forces would be banished before the day of absolute silence, spent behind closed doors, which started at 6am on the new moon (March 12).
When I checked into the Santika Beach Resort Hotel at Kuta beach, the 160-room resort had very low occupancy and all guests were given a guide on the dos and don’ts for Hari Nyepi.
I told the hotel reception that I was there to enjoy silence and a friend who followed me agreed to stay in a separate room and not utter a word for 24 hours.
When I woke up in total seclusion on the Day of Silence, there was complete calm and a peaceful ambience prevailed at the resort as I stepped out onto the balcony.
I walked out of my room and found the hotel’s main entrance covered with a huge curtain to prevent people from entering or leaving the resort.
A long rope and a sign urged guests to stay away from the beach on Hari Nyepi and the television in the hotel only screened cartoons and family dramas.
Meals at the hotel were served at limited hours and power supply was restricted to the rooms and restaurant.
I spent the rest of the daylight hours in silence and meditation, ate light meals and spent most of the time in contemplation.
Every second passed like an hour and in the quietness, I found that I could flush out negative thoughts easily and allow my mind to absorb fresh input.
During this time of reflection, I could feel a greater state of spiritual consciousness and my body felt lighter and relaxed.
I found answers to the questions I was seeking about life, peace and happiness in the absence of sound.
The Balinese regarded my messages as pure in nature because they believe that spiritual energy increases when our mind and body are in total stillness.
On this pollution-free day, I observed that the air was fresher, birds flew freely, the grass was greener and the sea waves calmer.
Kuta beach saw one of the rarest and most amazing sunsets that day, which the Balinese people interpreted as the sun god thanking the islanders for respecting nature.
My mobile phone was switched to silent mode and I read spiritual books before going to bed early.
The dawn signalled the end of the Day of Silence at 6am on March 13. I woke up early to see Bali reborn because everything was fresh and new. It was like nature had rebooted itself to its natural state.
I returned transformed and happy, and vowed that I would return to the Island of Gods for its next silent day on March 31 in 2014.
Vasthu Sastra talk
T. Selva will present a talk on ancient secrets, pyramid science and Vasthu Sastra for health at The Star Health Fair on April 13 at 3.30pm at Mid Valley Exhibition Centre, Hall 3, Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. To register, call 012-329 9713.
T. Selva, chief news editor at The Star, is the author of the Vasthu Sastra Guide and is the first disciple of 7th generation Vasthu Sastra master Yuvaraj Sowma from Chennai, India. Selva provides tips on Vasthu Sastra on RTM’s TRAXX fm at 11.15am on the last Friday of every month. You can follow him on twitter at @tselvas and write to him at tselvas@the star.com.my. This column appears on the last Sunday of every month.
The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, usefulness, fitness for any particular purpose or other assurances as to the opinions and views expressed in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses suffered directly or indirectly arising from reliance on such opinions and views.
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