Contrary to several other cultures all around the world who celebrate the New Year with dynamic and sparkling festivities, the crowning point of the Balinese New Year 6 day celebration is a day dedicated to complete silence – NYEPI.
On the 3rd day the entire Island comes to a standstill, with no scheduled incoming or outgoing flights from Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar (DPS).
This day is called Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” and falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of approximately equal duration.
Hotels are asked to cover their windows, all shops are closed, all! No light or candle will be lit in any Balinese home, no cars on the road, no motorbikes, no people. It’s indeed a special experience, not only for the Balinese but also for all the visitors and tourists that are on Bali during Nyepi Day. If you are in Bali during Nyepi make sure you do not plan any traveling or outside activities.
Good to Know about Nyepi
Nyepi is the most important and sacred Hindu holiday on Bali and is a general public holiday in the rest of Indonesia.
The famous ogoh-ogoh parades, where Balinese men (and boys) carry scary creatures of respectable sizes through the streets accompanied by noise and gamelan music is happening on “Nyepi Eve”, the evening of the second day after New Year.
Tourists and visitors are welcome to watch the parades, take pictures and witness this unique spectacle. Some of these ogoh-ogohs are actually burnt after the parade.
On the actual day of Nyepi (3rd day of the 6-day festival) the entire Island is “closed”. The roads are off limit to all types of motorised vehicles and people on foot! The airport is closed. All grocery, clothes and other types of shops are closed. For tourists and Balinese. Restaurants are closed. The Beach is prohibited. Basically anything other then being indoors is restricted. While indoors the inhabitants must ensure that all audio devices are turned down to a minimum volume. As the day draws to an end and the sun sets, the curtains need to be drawn shut, with minimum light being used in ones living quarter. If an airplane was to fly over Bali, the Island would not be seen. To ensure that all the rules are obeyed local watchmen known as Pecalang (Nyepi Police) are deployed all over the Island.
The evening before Nyepi day Balinese carry large Ogoh Ogoh through Bali’s streets. Already young kids follow the example of their fathers. The statues are up to 25feet tall and can be very heavy. With the help of a bamboo grid a large group of men carry the ogoh ogoh followed by Balinese gamelan musicians.