Bali is such a special place and there are many reasons why. Nyepi, or The Day of Silence, which falls on March 28th this year, is one of them. On this magical day, no planes fly, no transport operates, no people will be seen on the streets or beaches, except in the south, the pecalang or banjar guards, who patrol the streets ensuring naughty tourists stay in their hotels.


Bali’s usual flurry and bustle ceases. No neighbour’s loudspeaker system, or buzz of machinery on a building site, or the screeching of motorbikes will mar the silence. No women with baskets on their heads, or temple processions will be seen. The downside of course, is that no restaurants or convenience stores or entertainment will operate. It is the day to go within.


You don’t go out on the street or you may nd yourself approached by the village police or pecalang – those lovely guys dressed in black shirts and poleng ( black and white woven cloth) over their sarongs who will ask you to return to your hotel. In reality, Nyepi is one part of a four part ritual that begins three days before with Melasti. Every banjar makes a melasti procession to a specially designated beach – which becomes a miracle of planning and timing as all over Bali, the beaches are lled with fabulous processions and ceremonies.


All statues of deities are cleaned and symbols used to help bring the conscious mind of the individual closer to the gods. The ceremony is aimed to clean not only the religious parephenalia of the individual temples but as an act of purification for the whole world. If you take yourself to a beach, you will witness in motion the great beauty and unity that is Bali. Long, beautiful processions of traditionally clad people making their way to the water from all over Bali, bringing the effigies of the gods from all of the village temples to help purify the people and the planet.


This will be in stark contrast to the 28th of March when, in a ritual known as Tawur Kesanga, a wild cacophony of sound breaks out and the entire population, it seems, creates a rioutous din aimed at driving all evil from the streets. These invisible causes of evil, demons known as bhuta –kalas, haunt desolated places, the seashore and the deep forests, likewise infesting the dangerous parts of the village such as the crossroads and the cemetery. On the day before Nyepi, bhuta -kalas are lured to the village crossroads and focal points with elaborate offerings prepared the week before. Once the forces of evil have gathered to partake of the offerings, the village priest casts them out with elaborate curses, whilst the people of the village seek to terrify them with sound.


Huge papier-mache ogres, known ogoh-ogoh, are then marched around the streets, from west to east, before being burned. Small children grab plastic containers, cooking pots and any other noise making device and help to drive the demons from the streets, shouting “Megedi! Megedi! Me Kaad, de ngoyong dini!” [Get Out! Get Out! Move away from here, do not stay!] IN the desa or country villages, they make bamboo cannons which would scare the life out of any living creature. The ogoh ogoh are made by the youths in each banjar, (village community groups), and increasingly by other groups. Even expats have gotten into the game. Today, representations have strayed from traditional icons and could be figures of tourists, or beautiful girls, as well as ogres, Rangda or heroes from the Ramayana Hindu epic. This is a not a night to try and get the children to bed early. They stay up as late as everyone, to join in the festivities, revel in the making of noise and the releasing of tensions. The bamboo canons are fired, kul- kuls (traditional Balinese bamboo slit-drums) banged and fire-crackers let off with mischievous delight.


At midnight all noise ceases, in preparation for Nyepi Day. Everyone returns home, unplug appliances, turn off lights, and retire. Upon waking, except for the sound of the roosters and birds, streams and sea, all is stillness. The whole island moves inward. More recently, even the airport, is shut down (once, years ago I had to go to the airport on Nyepi Day and the island was completely deserted) and only an emergency trip to the hospital is possible, should you really need it. As visitors to the island we can follow the Balinese and use Nyepi as a day for giving up, for letting go of the bustle of our individual existences, and cultivate the silence within. It is an extraordinary time for all of us and whether we sit and watch TV, go rent a villa in the Gilis, or actually use it for our own personal development, it is up to us.


Ideally, we can practice minimalism. Prepare food the day before, turn off the lights and tv and stay inside, on all levels. We can observe the spiritual nature of the rite, and grow. It is this ability to go inward, the ability to listen to their hearts, to release our own hidden demons through ritual - it is the ability to believe and pay homage - that sets the Balinese apart. Nyepi signifies humanity’s ability to go inward, the ability to assert spiritual control over the forces of evil, the cacophony that is the contemporary world. After the day of silence, the fourth and last part of the ritual, Ngembak Geni, is the day when Balinese Hindus visit their friends and relatives, their neighbours, and ask forgiveness for any wrongdoing that may have occurred. All is fresh and new again, the world and the hearts of the people have been cleansed.

travelstumble, Generating Awareness, Traffic Building, SEO for Business Clients, through online advertising, including e-campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Jl. Tangkuban Perahu III No. 4 Padangsambian, Denpasar
Bali - Indonesia


Connect with us

We Accept