Mar 28, 2017

Spending Nyepi in Bali--Part 3, Day of Silence

As we've mentioned previously, one of the things we love about Bali is its strong culture.  While Indonesia is predominately a Muslim nation, the island of Bali is mainly Hindu.  In fact, 84% practice Hinduism, while 13% are Muslim, 2.5% Christian and 0.5% are Buddhist.  And Nyepi is the New Year for the Balinese Hindu.  Do you know how it is celebrated on this tiny island, home to over 4 million inhabitants plus tourists?  

In total and utter complete SILENCE!!!  

Regardless of your religion or nationality, the Nyepi Ritual is to be observed by all who are in Bali on Nyepi, for a period lasting 24hrs from 6am until 6am the following day.  During that period, there is to be no fire (electricity, lights), no working, entertaining or pleasure, and no travelling of any sort.  Some devout even do not talk nor eat.

The empty streets of Sanur outside our hotel, at 6pm on Nyepi 2017.

The streets are void of traffic with the exception of emergency vehicles.  Traditional security men patrol the streets to ensure that they are empty.

Traditional 'Security', on the eve of Nyepi

The beaches are empty.

Even the International Airport is closed for the entire 24hrs, with no flights arriving or departing at all.

It is meant to be a day of Silence, of reflection.  Most Balinese tell us they will sleep most of the day.

Foreigners must also stay within their hotel's property, with no check-in or check-outs available.  Guests are allowed to use the hotel's facilities such as the pool and watch tv although quietly.  

Our pool area was uncharacteristically busy on Nyepi.

In anticipation of Nyepi, we made sure that we stocked up on food as all business would be closed.  While our hotel offered to provide lunch and dinner, the cost was a bit above our budget.  Luckily we were located only a few hundred metres from the supermarket and we had a fridge and a kettle in our room.

We stocked up on $300,000 IDR (appox $25 USD) worth of food for the 24hr Nyepi period.  Our menu: cornflakes with fresh milk for breakfast; Vegemite (from Australia) and Cheese sandwiches for lunch with boiled eggs; and Dinner of instant noodles and boiled eggs. We got of fresh cut papaya, watermelon, pineapple and dragon fruit too.

Nyepi was a peaceful day, which we spent in the company of our fellow guests around the pool in our hotel.  We had quiet conversations and a restful day reading.  

At night, it was extremely peaceful.  As we snuck down the driveway of our hotel for a peak down the street, all we saw was darkness.  It was even darker than you'd ever get with a power outage!  And the stars in the sky--so brilliant in an otherwise tourist mecca.  

Other than the lights permitted at hotels, Bali gave the earth a much needed rest from pollution and carbon emissions today.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if this could be done by everyone all over the world, for at least one day of the year?

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