Nyepi – the Balinese Day of Silence
Anyone considering travelling to Bali in the month of March should be aware that a major religious holiday will take place that could impact on scheduled itineraries. On 19th March 2007 the Balinese will celebrate Nyepi and for a period of 24-hours all activity throughout the entire island literally comes to a standstill. Out of respect for this cultural tradition visitors are obliged to remain within the confines of their hotel until the occasion passes. For some holidaymakers the peaceful ambience comes as a welcome relief, but others may feel disadvantaged at losing a day of shopping or sightseeing.
In accordance to the ancient lunar calendar Nyepi is the symbolic Balinese New Year which is marked by a day and night of quiet solitude and contemplation. Any form of activity is strictly prohibited and even the airport is closed. The underlying philosophy of Nyepi is to appease evil spirits and cleanse the island and its inhabitants from all impurities or disturbing influences that may have accumulated.
It is locally believed that once a year all the evil spirits of the unseen world roam the skies searching for a place to descend and wreak havoc. With the island shrouded in silence and noise and light kept to a bare minimum, Bali holds little interest and the negative forces pass it by for another year.
Traditionally on the evening prior to Nyepi the local communities carry giant monster effigies around the streets in a noisy parade with gongs and flaming torches. The purpose of this is to frighten away the negative forces of the underworld that are an intrinsic element in Balinese Hinduism.
Whist remaining within the hotel grounds guests’ are free to swim, partake in regular in-house activities and enjoy buffet dining. However, the Balinese in their own homes often fast during Nyepi and take the opportunity to meditate and reflect on the coming year.
Keeping an island the size of Bali free from daily activity is truly a unique phenomenon. This ‘sense of silence’ on such a grand scale can only be experienced in Bali and as things return back to normal there is a general feeling of renewal.
During this annual event, please keep the following things in your mind:
The silence begins at 5 a.m. of March 19 and the next 24 hours.
The airport will be totally closed on March 19, so there will be neither arrival nor departure in the airport on that day. All connecting airports around the globe have been informed about it in advance.
If you take surface trip, you should not plan your arrival in Bali on March 19, there is no activity in the bus terminal and most importantly there will be no traffic on that day in the whole Bali island.
You should stay inside the hotel. Do not go out of the hotel. Should you need food or anything to buy, do it on the previous day because on Nyepi Day all shops do not open.
Since all activities throughout the island are held, put your plan before or ahead of Nyepi Day.
Should you want to make a light or play the music, keep it minimum, no light and sounds are allowed.
Don’t make any over-noise sound while you are at hotel.