After a quiet Saturday in Central Java’s Anggrasmanis village, as some local residents observed Catur Brata for Nyepi (Day of Silence), the small town on Sunday was awoken by activities that began from early morning.
Locals were busy preparing various needs for Ngembak Geni, which means “one may light a fire”, a ceremony conducted after observers spend the whole Day of Silence in quiet reflection.
The ceremony was held at the Buana Agung Magendra Jati temple, a small temple located on the hills of the Anggrasmanis village, as its location provides sweeping views of the forest and valley of Mount Lawu.
One by one, villagers walk down a small footpath to climb the hills toward the temple, carrying offerings of fruits and flowers in the form of Pajegan, Banten and Canang, all obtained from local grounds around the village.
The ceremony was led by temple leader Mangku Djito, who chanted each verse of the prayers accompanied by a rhythmic beat of the vajra, as well as a cloud of incense smoke. The people also followed by singing Macapat Asmaradana Tembang, which contains prayers and praise to God Almighty.
The prayers continued with the metirtha procession, the blessing of the people with holy water. After receiving the blessing, people attached bija (rice seeds) as a symbol of bringing wisdom to the heart and mind.
The ceremony of Ngembak Geni is then concluded with the procession of Dharma Santi, which has a philosophical value of consciousness to confess sin and error, and apologizing for all the mistakes that have been committed to fellow human beings, to nature and to God.
In this procession, the Hindus who attended the Ngembak Geni ceremony greeted and apologized to one another.
“The series of Nyepi processions, from Melasti, Tawur Agung, Catur Brata to Ngembak Geni and Dharma Santi, is a gradual process that can be understood as an effort to become a new and better human,” Mangku Djito conveyed in his sermon at the Ngembak Geni ceremony.
“To be able to become a better human being, the first step is having the courage to admit mistakes, apologize and forgive, as done in the Dharma Santi procession”, Mangku Djito said. He added that Dharma Santi was not only done at the temple shortly after the prayers.
“Usually families would visit each other over the next 10 days. The Hindus of Anggrasmanis will also visit other observing Hindus in other villages in this region of Jenawi,” Mangku Djito said.