Siwaratri (Purgatory a la Balinese)
Today Balinese celebrates Siwaratri, here is the interesting article on last year edition:
Tonight, on the seventh month’s fourteenth day of waxing moon, Balinese will celebrate the Siwaratri or the Night of Siwa. This holy day is devoted to God Siwa, the destroyer. Balinese believes that on this day, God Siwa, the destroyer meditate for the welfare of the world, and the God Siwa will bestow a pardon for all sin to someone if he accompany the God Siwa in his meditation by observing some self restriction and meditate on the night of Siwaratri.
The Brata (self-restriction) of Siwaratri includes Jagra (staying awake all night long), Upawasa (fasting), and Monabrata (silence). There are three major level of self- restriction, Balinese can choose a level of self-restriction according to his capability. The Kakawin (old poetry prayer) of Siwaratrikalpa explains the three major level of self- restriction that should take place on the Siwaratri night as follow Utama (top self-restriction) includes Brata (self-restriction) like Monabrata (silence), Upawasa (fasting) and Jagra (staying awake all night long). Madya (middle self-restriction) includes Upawasa (fasting) and Jagra (staying awake all night long). Nista (lowest self-restriction) includes only Jagra (staying awake all night long). The Brata (self-restriction) is held over a period of 36 hours, starting with the sunrise on January 3 until the sunset of ‘Tilem Kepitu’ on January 4, 2011.
The celebration of Siwaratri, night of Siwa will light up the night all over Bali. On this night, temples will be full of the congregations. They stay awake all night long, recite prayer or old religious story, chat with friend (for those who takes a lesser self- restriction) and fight the sleepy eyes as hard as possible. The students will celebrate the Siwaratri, night of Siwa in their respective school, they gather in the school temple under the supervision of their teacher, recites prayer, read the holy book, or simply chat with other student.
After succeeding in fighting the sleepy eyes all night long, Balinese will flock to the beach to take a purification ceremony simply by praying on the beach and taking a quick bath in the chill seawater. After completing the ceremony Balinese must not sleep, he has to go to work as usual. Taking a sleep in the morning or a nap will destroy all the Brata (self-restriction) that have been observe on the day before.