Everything you need to know about Nyepi:
Nyepi, It’s a very sacred and important Hindu holiday on the Island of Bali, that marks the beginning of the Balinese New Year. This Saka Calendar year, it falls on the 28th of March, the night of the new moon. There are 5 days of celebrations during this time, from the 25th to the 29th. On the third day of festivities is Nyepi day, a day of silence.
This day of the festivities is dedicated for Hindu Balinese to connect more with God. Throughout the day people pray, meditate and fast in order to reflect as well as consider their values.
The whole island closes down for this day of solitude, including the airport. There will be no lights or candles, no cars, motorbikes or people on the roads, and no one on the beaches. The shutdown for Nyepi begins at 6am and does not end until 6am the next day.
The sacred week has many rituals before and after Nyepi. The day before being the most noticeable to travellers. The Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed during this time, where negative elements are vanquished to create a balance with God, Mankind and Nature. Offerings are made as well to win over, Batara Kala, the God of the underworld. At sunset the ritual ofpengerupukan begins, where Hindu Balinese parade the streets with Ogoh Ogoh’s and play instruments very loudly in order to scare the evil spirits. Ogoh Ogoh’s are large demonic looking statues which are symbolic of evil spirits. Many devout Hindu Balinese begin making their Ogoh Ogoh’s two months before so be sure not to miss this once a year event. The parade eventually comes to an end with the ceremonial burning of the Ogoh Ogoh’s to banish the evil spirits.
The following morning begins Nyepi, a day of absolute silence and self reflection. Typically, Hindu Balinese stay at home during this time not speaking to one another, not answering phones or taking in guests. There is to be no fire or light (electricity), no satisfying of pleasurable human appetites, no form of physical working, no movement or travel and no self entertaining. It is spent in meditation or praying to shrines at home.
After Nyepi, is the Hindu Balinese New Years Day where families visit one another and ask for forgiveness before starting the new year.
For tourists this can be a special experience that you might not get to participate in again. Make sure to know where you will be during this day and what the rules are at the accommodation you’re staying at. Feel free to join in and have your own day of solitude with self contemplation or carry about your day inside where you are staying. Just be sure to keep the audio at a minimum and keep your curtains closed at night! The chose is yours but remember that there will be Nyepi Police around the island making sure that the rules are followed so don’t be one of those tourists from last year who had to get themselves a Nyepi selfie. Be respectful and enjoy this unique day.
For those of you concerned about safety, public services such as hospitals and transportation for sick will still be running on this day.
Depicted above is Melasti, one of the Nyepi Sequences. Balinese Hindus go to the beach to purify themselves and sacred items in a temple before welcoming the day of Nyepi.