Nusa Penida fishermen will stay ashore for Nyepi Segara
Fishermen and residents of the Nusa Penida islets will conduct the important Nyepi Segara ritual on Wednesday, during which they refrain from sea-related activities for 24 hours.
The ferry port and traditional ports will also be closed during the ritual, which the locals believe gives the sea a much-needed day off from human exploitation.
“The ritual is our way of expressing our respect toward the God of the Sea, who has been very generous in providing our people with a bountiful supply of fish and other sea products. It is also to give the sea time to rest,” ritual committee head I Ketut Adi said.
The Nusa Penida islets comprise Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan. These three small islands to the southeast of Bali are populated mostly by fishermen and seaweed farmers.
In the last decade, the islets have enjoyed a burgeoning tourism industry that has gradually become a significant source of income for many locals.
“For 24 hours, the fishermen will dock their jukung [traditional outriggers] and present sacred offerings to the Lord of the Sea instead of going out to sea to go fishing,” he said.
On Tuesday, thousands of locals participated in the sacrificial ritual of Makelem, during which various animals were drowned in the sea as an offering to Baruna, the Lord of the Sea.
Later, they prayed at Penataran Ped temple, the spiritual nexus of the islets.
“We believe that Nyepi Segara is the day when Baruna meditates. We stop all sea-related activities so as not to disturb his meditation,” he added.
The ritual committee notified the tour operators and tourism service providers to stop their activities during the Nyepi Segara.
“We have asked them not to organize diving or fishing trips on that day,” Adi said, adding that traditional guardsmen would patrol the shoreline.
Nyepi Segara is part of the locals’ major annual religious festival of Ngusaba Desa.
“We have carried out this ritual for centuries and the foreign visitors have always shown a deep respect toward our tradition,” local fisherman I Wayan Sukastha said.
Kusamba, a fishing village on mainland Bali, also celebrates Nyepi Segara.
The tradition bears many similarities to the annual Balinese celebration of Nyepi, during which Hindus refrain from going outside their respective family compounds, among other things.