On March 14, 2021, the entire island of Bali will shut down for Nyepi, often known as the Balinese Day of Silence. Nyepi marks the start of the New Year according to the Balinese saka calendar and is a day of great religious and cultural significance for Balinese Hindus all over the world.
Of course, the Balinese aren’t the sort to let their new year go by without a bang, so this solemn day of silent meditation is preceded by an island-wide street party that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re lucky enough to be in Bali for this event, make sure you bring your camera and prepare to be amazed!
SPECIAL NOTE: Covid-19 cases in Bali are still very high, the Ogoh Ogoh Parade will be canceled. Other Nyepi events will have strict health protocols.
Nyepi is not just a marker for the start of a new year. Celebrated every 420 days, Nyepi is designated as a special day for meditation and self-reflection, with the opportunity to start the New Year afresh.
The evening before Nyepi, the island is in high spirits and hundreds of spectacular Ogoh-Ogoh parades are performed all over Bali. Ogoh-Ogoh are large hand-crafted effigies that are made in the image of demons and other mythological creatures. On Nyepi eve, the “real” demons and bad spirits are chased out of Balinese homes with a lot of noise in the form of banging pans and exploding coconuts.The demons are then enticed inside these physical effigies, after which they are carried through the village and ritually burned to chase away the evil spirits.
On Nyepi day itself, the island descends into complete silence in order to prevent the demons from returning. People stay in their homes with no lights on, no cars are on the roads and even the airport shuts down for the day! By doing this it’s hoped that any passing demons will assume the island is uninhibited by humans and fly off to find a more populated island!
Nyepi is preceded by several days of ceremonies for the Balinese but the one of most interest to visitors is the Ogoh-Ogoh parade the night before. In each village the young men will gather at dusk to carry the demon statues through the streets at great speed, with the rest of the village cheering on from the sidelines. This can be quite a spectacle and it’s definitely not a sight to be missed.
Timing of the parade varies from village to village so it’s best to ask the locals what time the celebrations will start where you are staying.
Be warned that the Ogoh-Ogoh can be quite large and scary for small children so if your little ones are of a sensitive nature, be prepared to retreat and watch from a less intimidating distance.
Nyepi this year officially starts at 6am on Monday March 31st, 2014 and lasts until 6am the following day. During this time, all businesses will be shut and you will not be permitted to leave your hotel or villa. If you’re staying in private accommodation, make sure you have enough food and entertainment in to last 24 hours. Most hotels and large villas will operate as normal and you’ll still be able to walk around the grounds and use the pool.
Technically, it is forbidden to cook or use electricity on Nyepi day, but the enforcement of this depends on how strict individual villages are. The television signal is cut but to date, internet has been unaffected. It’s best to keep your use of lights to a minimum, close curtains or put up sheets in windows and make sure the volume level of any music or movies is kept low.
Nyepi is celebrated all over Bali. The best Ogoh-Ogoh parades can be seen in the city of Denpasar and in the tourist centers of Kuta, Sanur and Ubud. However, as many roads will be closed for the parades, it’s best not to travel too far to watch them. Many hotels and villas offer two or three day Nyepi packages over this period so you can enjoy the enforced day of silence in luxury.
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