Wednesday, 22nd March 2023, marks Nyepi Day in Bali. This is the most important day of the Balinese Hindu calendar, and many consider it a privilege to be on the island during this holy day.
Nyepi, also known as the Day of Silence, is a day of retreat and reflection. Balinese Hindus across the island will not work, light fires, seek entertainment, leave their homes, or even speak. Some people also choose to fast on Neypi Day too.
For visitors to the island, and even non-Hindu residents, the basic rules of Nyepi Day must also be honored. This means that from 6 am on 22nd March until 6 am the following morning (Thursday the 23rd), everyone in Bali must stay inside their homes or accommodation.
While the world is now accustomed to the notion of lockdown, it can still feel a bit odd to be told that you cannot leave your accommodation when you’ve come all the way to Bali.
Think not of Neypi Day as a day of restriction or control; think of Neypi Day as a beautiful way to be a part of an ancient cultural practice.
How often do we take a minute, at least not a whole day, to be quiet and reflect on life? Why not take the opportunity to do just that?
What Is The Meaning Of Nyepi Day?
For Balinese Hindus, Neypi Day marks a time of purification and cleansing ahead of New Year’s Day, which this year falls on Thursday 23rd.
For those interested in the wisdom traditions of other countries, and even astrology, you’ll have noticed that Nyepi Day corresponds with the Spring Equinox and associated holy days in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of Aries season, the energetic new year in modern-day astrology.
Neypi preparations start many months before the day of silence itself. Each community in Bali comes together to make an Ogoh Ogoh statue that gets paraded through the village streets the night before Nyepi.
The Ogoh Ogoh statues are villainous, ugly creatures that are made to chase away bad spirits away. The Ogoh Ogoh are carried through the streets by the young men, and the statue is turned around three times at every junction or crossing in the village as bad spirits are believed to lurk at crossings.
As of 6 am, everyone must be in their homes. The pecalang, community security, and officials monitor activity (or lack thereof) in the village and make sure that everyone adheres to the rules.
At 6 am the following day, life returns to the streets of Bali with a buzz. As part of the New Year’s Day celebrations, families, friends, and communities come together, ask each other for forgiveness, and even participate in the Kissing Ritual!
What Does Nyepi Day Mean For Tourists?
It means relax! It means staying indoors. It means taking the opportunity to reflect!
It has been confirmed that electricity will remain on in Bali, except in Nusa Penida, where mains power will be switched off from *am on Wednesday until 4 am on Thursday.
However, the power supply will drop by 30-40%, and power cuts during Neypi Day are not unheard of.
Cellular services will be switched off, but WiFi services will remain on. But, bear in mind, some accommodations in Bali may switch off their own in-house WiFi systems for the day.
All restaurants and shops will be closed; however, hotels and resorts, of course, make provisions for their guests during the day of silence. If you are unsure what will and won’t be available, ask your host.
It’s Important To Respect Nyepi Day
It is important to respect Neypi Day and all festivities, holy days, and ceremonies in Bali.
Bali is a deeply spiritual island, and the community’s connection to their faith and culture can be seen everywhere.
In the last week, there have been dozens of reports of visitors in Bali not respecting the ceremonies, processions, and parades that are happening around the island. This has included foreigners screaming in the face of local pecalang during ceremonies.
If you cannot walk down the street you want to use due to a parade or road closure for the ceremony or are driving past a procession, please respect the community and just wait a moment (processions move quickly!) or find another route.
Unless you’re in a real-life or death situation, there is no need to rush past or interrupt a religious ceremony. Leaders, locals, and lovers of Bali are calling on everyone to respect and revere the communities, culture, and lands that give so much to us all.
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