Bali's New Year's Day
Nyepi: A Day of Silence in Bali

In other parts of the world, the New Year is celebrated with laughter and indefatigable joy.
In Bali, the island hushes up and retreats into being the quietest place on earth for 24 hours.

Nyepi is the national day of silence in Bali. It is a day for devotees to honor the Hindu New Year through self-reflection, meditation and fasting. There are four elements to the Nyepi ritual, including Amati Geni (to not light up fire/switch on lights), Amati Karya (to not work), Amati Lelunganan (to not travel), and Amati Lelanguan (to fast & abstain).

The religious festival is observed from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m. of the following day. Ngembak Geni is celebrated on the day after Nyepi, where social activities resume almost immediately and dear ones come together to perform religious rituals and seek forgiveness from one another.

Over 90% of the Balinese population practices Hinduism. On the day of Nyepi, vehicles are not allowed on the roads, and those found engaging in activities in public will risk being arrested. For tourists, fun is only limited to the domain of their resorts. They are not allowed to leave the properties and the airports on the island are duly closed.

As I was traveling through Ubud, I was fortunate enough to witness the preparations that took place on the days leading up to the festival. Gigantic ogoh-ogoh were created out of papier-mâché, which were deliberately made to look grisly and grotesque as they represent demonic spirits. They would then be paraded on the streets before being ceremoniously burned to symbolize the riddance of evil for a better year ahead.

Balinese Day of Silence
Source: FANDY BALI Channel

Travel Tips During Nyepi

Many tourists would rather avoid traveling to Bali during Nyepi as it defeats the purpose of being there in the first place (not getting to soak up the sun, drown in dirt cheap alcohol etc). However, it is a rare opportunity to be able to experience this festival, its every ritual and the time it provides for you to immerse in tranquil quietude to meditate, unwind and contemplate.

To enjoy Nyepi:
  1. Bring a book
  2. Ensure that meals will be served at your accommodation
  3. Book your flight tickets to/from Bali before/after the day of Nyepi as airports will be closed
  4. Visit a neighboring island if silence and inactivity is not for you
  5. Ready the camera and join in the celebrations for the golden opportunity to document them
  6. Respect others who are celebrating
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Things to do during Nyepi
Nyepi: A Day of Silence in Bali