New Year's celebrations are usually characterised by entertainment, fun, and fireworks. In Bali, the New Year is welcomed in a totally different way: with a day of silence! Following the traditional lunar calendar, “Nyepi”, also known as “Silent Day”, usually falls in March.
On this day, routine activities are brought to a complete halt: streets are empty, beaches are shut, there is no public transportation, shops and restaurants remain closed. Since it’s considered a day for contemplation, to fast, to meditate and reflect on the past year, religious rules are really strict, and state there should be no traffic, no work, no fire, no fun, and a limited use of electricity.
People tend to stay at home, while local police go on patrol to make sure the rules are respected. Nyepi follows after a new moon and New Year’s Eve celebrations, marked by rituals aimed at sending malevolent spirits away.
People craft papier-mâché effigies called “ogoh-ogoh”, which are paraded through the streets, while bamboo cannons and firecrackers fill the air with flames and smoke.
Purification ceremonies on beaches start three days before Nyepi, and pilgrims from various village temples make processions towards the coastline. After these busy days, a complete calm enshrouds the island on Nyepi Day, so people can relax, and Mother Nature can regenerate itself after a year of human pestering.
The only sound you might hear on Nyepi day is that of an ambulance, or of a police car, but only if there is an emergency, as the island just wants to literally shut down for 24 hours!
Read more about unusual unusual New Year’s Eve tradition here.
By Maria D'Innocenzo