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Nyepi, Bali's magical day of silence

23 February 2016

Nyepi Day marks the Balinese Saka New Year, and the way in which it is celebrated is totally unique and something that you will never experience anywhere else in the world. This is the day when the whole island retreats into silence for 24 hours. There will be no flights in or out of Bali on Nyepi Day, businesses will be closed, no one will be allowed out on the streets, no television programmes will be broadcast, and on this night of the dark moon, all lights must be extinguished. For the Balinese, the purpose of the day is to teach control of excess, the idea being to spend the day in quiet contemplation and meditation. Any demons and evils spirits will be deluded into thinking that Bali is deserted, prompting them to leave the island.

 

Nyepi is perhaps the most important of the Island's religious days and the prohibitions are taken seriously. Hotels are exempt from Nyep's rigorous practices but the streets will be closed to both pedestrians and vehicles, except for emergency vehicles. Village wardens known as Pecalang’ will be posted to keep people off the streets and the beach. 

 

If you embrace the experience, you will discover that this unique and wonderful day is pure joy. All you will hear is the birds singing. After nightfall, listen to the frog song and gaze at the stars, unsullied by street lamps, and with no moon, the night sky looks amazing.

 

The days leading up to Nyepi, meanwhile, are filled with activity. The Balinese Hindus dress in gorgeous traditional costume, and religious objects and the effigiesof the gods are taken in long, colourful, lavish processions from all the village temples to sacred springs, rivers, or the sea for purification.

 

The day before Nyepi is known as ‘Pengrupukan’, and in the evening, exciting street carnival processions take place as the evil spirits are driven away with gongs, drums, cymbals, firecrackers and huge, scary, highly-creative papier-mâché monsters known as ‘Ogoh-ogoh’.

 

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