How do Westerners open the New Year? With revelry.
How do the Balinese open their own New Year? With a full day of silence, called Nyepi.
Nyepi is Bali’s “Day of Silence” is Monday March 11th 2024. It is a Hindu celebration mainly in Bali.
Nyepi Day is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese.
After a full year of accumulating impurities, Bali must be completely cleansed. This is a prelude to Nyepi by every village on the island. This is known as Melasti and is a spectacular procession of Balinese walking to the beach or rivers for purification.
The evening prior to Nyepi there is a parade of Ogoh Ogoh (paper mache monsters) in every village to scare aware the evil spirits. The monsters represent all objects, people or anything that can disrupt human life.
From 6.a.m on the morning on Nyepi to 6.a.m the following day is silent, so the bad spirits scared aware the night before do not return. It is also a day reserved for self reflection and meditation. The main restrictions are no lightning fire (and light must be kept low), no working, no entertainment or pleasure, no traveling and for some no talking or eating at all.
The effect of these restrictions is that Bali and its usual bustling streets are empty. There is no noise, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the pecalang, traditional security who patrol the street to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. Although Nyepi is a Hindu Holiday, non Hindu residents and tourists are not exempt from restrictions. Although free to do as they wish inside their hotel, strictly no one is allowed on beaches or streets and the airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day.
The world is then pure as everything is cleansed, ready for a brand new year.
On day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni (Relighting the fire) or Nyepi Manis, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious ritual together.
If you are lucky enough to be staying in Bali on the Day of Silence, enjoy this special time. Nyepi is definitely something special to Bali that you cannot experience anywhere else in the world!