Siwaratri, often referred to as the 'night of Siwa', is an auspicious time for introspection and meditation during which the Hindus of Bali pray for forgiveness of their earthly sins and for support and strength from Siwa in order to reach their higher selves.
Siwaratri ceremonies and activities
Siwaratri starts with an opening ceremony of prayers and offerings which is performed at the kawiten, the family's house temple. This preliminary ceremony should be finished before daybreak and is at 6am followed by:
- Monabrata - silence, not speaking for a period of 12 hours,
- Upawasa - fasting, not eating or drinking during 24 hours,
- Mejagra - meditation, not sleeping during 36 hours.
Each of these (non-)activities are methods to learn to be self-conscious at all times, to have self control in all circumstances. When finished each of them is closed with prayers and offerings in the house temple.
The spiritual symbolism of the Siwaratri ceremonies
The ceremonies and activities of Siwaratri day should remind people to always be spiritually conscious while facing the ups and downs of physical life, to always be aware of the fact one is an incarnated soul. More often than not one tends to forget the true essence of one's being in the dynamic turmoil of physical life with its emotional inclinations of urges, temptations and desires.
- Fasting is a method to reach self-control in respect with not to be selfish and greedy.
- Silence is a method to learn one should never speak impulsively but instead to carefully weigh one's words before reacting to one's experiences in life, to always speak fair and honest words, to never lie, slander, speak evil or swear.
- Not sleeping, staying awake, is a method to learn to be always 'awake', meaning aware of one's approach of physical life, which should be done with a conduct of insight and wisdom.
Siwaratri celebration date
Siwaratri is always celebrated on the day before Tilem Sasih Kepitu, the new moon of the 7th month of the Saka Moon calendar of Bali, a day which usually falls in the month of January.