This program creatively combines the best of the Bali Institute educational programs with selected course work for graduate theological students. As an option, Ted invites anyone interested to join his students for presentations designed for deeper study.
Balinese Hinduism enjoys a distinct millennium and a half history with a singular commitment to societal peace and environmental sustainability. The Bali Nyepi Festival 2021 Trip will combine cultural immersion with academic discussion of Hindu spirituality and ecological science. Bali is the only Hindu island in Indonesia which is the largest Muslim nation in the world.
The nearly two-week trip will include the annual Nyepi Festival, March 14, 2021. Nyepi is the Balinese New Year celebration when the entire island goes into meditative silence and reflection (we will use this time for deeper discussions on what we are learning). On the Eve of Nyepi, there are celebrations unlike anywhere else! 25-foot “Ogoh-Ogoh’s,” colorful statues depicting elements of our dark side, are paraded through the streets to shouts and music. We will join the Balinese in immolating our dark side.
The cultural component of our journey will include visits to Hindu temples, ancient and contemporary Balinese art, Batik instruction, folk dances, dinner in a local family home, and dinner in with members of the Peliatan Royal Family at the Peliatan Palace. The academic component will include seminars on Hindu theology, Hindu-Muslim relations, Balinese ecology, coral reef restoration, and related topics.
For GTU Students:
Enrolled students should sign up for Milestones 5/6B. One option for Milestones 5 & 6 is to participate in the GTU Bali Nyepi Festival Field Trip. Partners or family guests are welcome to join us for the GTU Bali Field Trip. More details to come.
Natural Science and Its Multi-religious Dimensions
with optional Bali, Indonesia, Field Trip
1.5 Certificate Credits
About the Program Leaders:
Dr. Ted Peters is Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Graduate Theological Union, specializing in the creative interaction between science and religion. He co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, and is the author/editor of more than 25 books on topics covering evolution, ecology, ethical issues related to stem cell research/gene editing, and spirituality/religion in history. Ted is also author of 4 Leona Foxx espionage thrillers (with more to come!) that incorporate his professional experience with fiction. Spring semester 2020 he is teaching the on-line course, “Natural Science and its Multi-Religious Dimensions.”
Karen Peters is a communications and marketing specialist with an M.A. in Educational Psychology and worked clinically with learning disabled children in NYC. In CA, Karen integrated her education with business to become VP of Communications & Licensing and spokesperson for Gymboree. She then joined Supercuts, Inc where she developed the company’s first national communications and public relations program; served as a Focus Group Moderator for Cadillac (GM); led an entrepreneurial group for women; and served as a business communications consultant. Karen hosted “Lightworks,” on NBC-TV in San Francisco for 25 years and co-hosted “Talk of Marin” on KKHI radio. Most recently, Karen was a principle in The Leadership Style Center, providing training in interpersonal communications in a business setting.
Karen likes to say she was one of the midwives at the birth of the Bali Institute, when Marcia Jaffe had that twinkle in her eye that became the first Quest for Global Healing in 2004. Since then she has supported the Bali Institute in a variety of ways. This trip marks her 6th adventure in Bali.
–> If you are not traveling with someone you would like to share a room with, we will pair you with another solo traveler, if no one is available, single room occupancy fee may apply. Each traveler will have their own bed unless you have indicated otherwise.
Nyepi is one of the most important festivals in the Balinese calendar, and it marks the new year according to the Hindu calendar. It is a day devoted to self reflection. The Balinese will not speak a word or engage in any type of entertainment for 24 hours and all shops and businesses are closed. Only hotels and emergency services are allowed to stay open. The local people take their period of silence seriously and even foreign visitors will be expected to stay in their hotels on this day. Spirituality plays a key part of life on Bali, and the Balinese believe that they need to perform regular offerings to the gods and placate demons. The new year is seen as a time of renewal, and the local people use it as a chance to purify their bodies and mind. It is hoped that by doing so it will mean that they will enjoy prosperity over the coming year. On Nyepi Eve there will be a real celebration atmosphere with parades and fireworks – probably the noisiest day of the year. And then, all of this excitement is followed by a day of complete silence. There is no other festival quite like it anywhere else on the planet.
The preparations for Nyepi begin months before, with each village preparing its own unique “Ogoh Ogoh” – a giant artistic representation of a favorite “demon”. These Ogoh Ogoh’s are being built on every main village road, and at night, as members of the community work together to create these monsters, the excitement is building. About three to four days before Nyepi, all Balinese prepare with the purification of temple objects – this is called the Melasti ceremony. The holy symbols that are of importance to the Balinese are taken to the sea for cleansing. This event involves processions and gamelon music.
Celebrations on Nyepi Eve (aka Tawur Kesanga) tend to be very noisy gatherings for an important reason — the goal is to drive out evil spirits. With this in mind the villagers parade their Ogoh Ogohs proudly through the streets and into the main village square. Songs and skits are often developed by different village groups. As they pass through a village the procession will stop at every crossroads and turn the Ogoh-Ogoh around three times – the aim is to confuse the spirits so that they will be forced to leave the island. As well as trying to frighten away demons and spirits, the local people will cook enough food to last them for the next couple of days. Nyepi Eve is one of the days when cock fighting is allowed because it is believed that the spilling of this animals blood can have a purifying effort for the entire island.