Nyepi Day – The Day of Silence
The Balinese new year consist of two parts, a very noisy one – Nyepi Eve – and a very quiet one – Nyepi Day.
For the Balinese, there is more to New Year than that, but as a tourist, Nyepi Eve and Nyepi day will be the parts of the “celebrations” you are most likely to experience. Well, if you are in Bali at the time of Nyepi you will have to put in a serious effort to not experience both Nyepi Eve and Day.
The short version of Nyepi is that Nyepi Eve is about creating a spectacle to attract the Evil spirits to Bali. When the spirits arrive, at around sunrise the next morning, everybody is hiding and being quiet, so the spirits finds nothing of interest and leave until next year.
Nyepi Eve starts around sunset with Ngrupuk parades. The main attractions of the parades are the Ogoh Ogohs – huge colorful figures of demons – that will be carried or driven around every town and village in Bali. The center of the parade is the town or village’s main crossroad and the parade will usually be accompanied by music, fireworks and bamboo bombs, making it quite a sight and something you do not want to miss if you have the opportunity.
The parade ends before midnight with the burning of the Ogog Ogohs as a symbol of getting rid of the evil spirits. If you stay out past midnight, be sure to get back home before well before sunset, as a taxis or scooter rides are hard to find as sunset approaches.
After Nyepi Eve comes Nyepi day – the day of silence – and the Balinese takes that very seriously. Pecalangs – traditional security men – will be on the streets, making sure the streets are empty as no traffic is allowed, not even pedestrian. Even Denpasar airport will be closed down for the entire day – I don’t think you see that anywhere else in the world.
In the houses, where everybody is supposed to stay, activities and light should be kept to a minimum and TV broadcasting is usually shut down for the day. So far the Internet has been working on Nyepi day, but many speculate that it’s only a matter of time before the Internet also will be included in the shutdown.
If you stay in a hotel, the rules are usually less strict inside the hotels premises, but even as a tourist you are expected to stay on the hotel grounds. Some hotels even have special Nyepi arrangements.
If you stay somewhere private, be sure to stock up on necessities and enjoy the silence of Nyepi day.