In a time-honored tradition, on the day immediately following Nyepi – the day of silence that marks the New Year in Bali, the people living in Banjar Kaja Sesetan in downtown Denpasar celebrate omed-omedan.
Omed-omedan is celebrated by the young people of Banjar Kaja by boys lining up on the right and girls on the left. With the two lines facing each other, the tradition progresses to where the boys and girls exchange kisses with the opposite line.
As passions build between the sexes, the traditional leaders from the village keep a careful eye, spraying cold water whenever, in their opinion, romantic ire needs cooling off.
Elder community leaders insist this tradition of random kissing is of unclear origins and unique to Banjar Kaja. Locals are equally convinced that a failure to convene the young people of the village for a “kissing fest” would result in calamity and disaster for the community. And, in a commendable spirit of personal self-sacrifice, young people show up each year on the day following Nyepi to kiss and be kissed.
Always held on the day after Nyepi (Ngembak Geni), involves much pushing, shoving and kissing.
Elders of the Banjar explain and defend the omed-omedan, saying its observance honors tradition, creates solidarity within the community and provides lots of light entertainment for both participants and spectators.
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