If you’re lucky enough to be experiencing Nyepi in Bali this year, you’re in for a treat. One of the most magical dates on the Balinese calendar, Bali’s “Day of Silence” starts from sunrise at 6 AM on the 25th March and finishes 24 hours later at sunrise on the 26th March.
WHAT IS NYEPI?
For the Balinese, Nyepi is a Hindu celebration that marks the start of the Saka New Year with a day of silence, meditation and for some, fasting. The island comes to a standstill with no lights, no noise, no traffic (right?!), and everyone, including tourists, must stay off the streets. The reasoning behind this is to fool evil spirits into thinking Bali has been abandoned so they will go elsewhere and purify the island to start the New Year positively.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING NYEPI?
Three or four days beforehand, on Melasti, the Balinese head to the beaches for a purification ritual. On the eve of Nyepi, the streets come alive with parades of Ogoh-Ogoh, tall frightening papier-mache sculptures with loud music, bursts of fire, thousands of people in the streets and plenty of community spirit. Every village has their own parade, starting around sunset, so be sure to check out your local parade as it’s likely you’ll need to walk home due to the road closures and out-of-office taxi drivers.
On Nyepi day the Balinese will be busy praying, meditating and spending time at home with family, for tourists, the rules are more relaxed but be warned, if you do sneak out, you will quickly be escorted back to your hotel by a less-than-impressed pecalang (village police officer). If you’re staying in a hotel, there’ll often be plenty of activities to keep you busy, lights will often be left on but dimmed at nighttime, and you’ll just need to keep your curtains closed.
HOW TO ‘SURVIVE’ NYEPI
If you’re staying in a private villa rather than a hotel, you’ll want to stock up on plenty of supplies well ahead of Nyepi, as the supermarket shelves often clear pretty quickly in the lead-up. On the day before Nyepi, most of the roads will close at around 4 pm to make way for the Ogoh-Ogoh parades that begin at 6 pm, so you’ll want to avoid travelling long distances after lunchtime. With nothing else to do other than kick back and relax, there’s no better time to check yourself into a luxury hotel or resort. We would recommend booking a 2-night stay at a resort as most have 24-hour room service and special activities to keep you busy which is a real win for this time of year. If you’d prefer to stay in a villa, find yourself a good book and take advantage of the chance to wind down and enjoy some time out from our busy, high-tech lives. Finally, this really is taking ‘Earth Hour’ to the next level with practically no light pollution, so don’t forget to enjoy the year’s most immersive night sky when the stars shine their brightest over Bali.
Written by Rae-Anne Gouyette