Nyepi or Silence Day marks the beginning of the Saka new year. In other words, Nyepi is the Balinese New Year and it’s observed according to the Balinese calendar, meaning the exact date will vary from year to year. This year Nyepi falls on the 7th of March, starting at 6am on Thursday and ends at 6am on Friday morning. During these hours, the island of Bali completely shuts down. Every shop is closed, there isn’t a car or motorbike to be seen on the usually bustling streets, and at night the island descends into darkness with no lights or fires to be seen. Even the entire airport shuts down on this day!
Nyepi is an extremely special time to be on the island for both locals and foreign visitors. For Balinese Hindu the day is reserved for prayer, meditation, and fasting. Meanwhile, tourists are free to do as they wish on this day but must stay indoors and make sure that any lights cannot be seen from the outside. During Nyepi, the streets of Bali are patrolled by local security officers called Pecalang. You will recognise them by their black and white plaid sarongs and head wraps. If you happen to wander off from your villa, the pecalang will simply escort you right back where you started from. The only exception is made for emergency vehicles.
The days leading up to Nyepi, however, are an extremely busy period for the Balinese, with a number of ceremonies called Melasti that must be performed for purification and to ensure good luck and fortune for the year ahead. At the night before Nyepi the streets of Bali will be filled with ogoh-ogoh parades. The Ogoh-ogoh are fearsome creatures crafted by local communities and are paraded down the street accompanied by gamelan music and the occasional fire crackers. This is definitely a show you wouldn’t want to miss!
While being confined inside might seem boring to those who have never experienced Nyepi, the reality is quite different. The clear air and silence from a whole island without traffic is something that must be experienced to be truly appreciated. Not to mention the incredibly beautiful sky at night filled with stars. It’s truly a sight and experience you’re sure to remember forever.
We hope this blog inspire you to travel and experience this one of the most unique holidays in the world. After all, where else but Bali can you experience a day staying at villa absolutely doing nothing, guilt free? In a world that seems to be spinning faster by the minute, we could all use a day of silence every now and then.