There are very few places in the world that respect the power of silence.
Here in Bali, the locals celebrate the Day of Silence, which is part of the annual Nyepi Festival. For the Hindu Balinese, it is a day dedicated to contemplation, rest, prayers and fasting, while taking a break from any and all social activities.
No one is allowed to go outside of their homes, villas or hotel compounds. This rule applies to anyone living and staying on the island, including Bali’s sister islands Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
Lights and sounds are to be kept to a minimum. All windows and doorways should be covered so that not even a speck of light can be seen. Contrary to popular beliefs, there will be electricity supply and internet on Nyepi Day, especially if you’re a tourist staying in a hotel or a villa.
On this day, the airport and harbors will also be closed, and no aircraft is allowed to fly over Bali.
(You may lose connectivity to the Internet; please check with your accommodation or your service provider. It’s highly recommended that you inform your contacts outside of Bali that you will not be contactable for 24 hours, starting 6 am on Nyepi Day.)
The night before Nyepi, the Balinese would usually take to the streets for the Ogoh-Ogoh parade. It is a noisy, cheerful and jovial event with music, lights and the spirit of community, in which gigantic papier-mâché sculptures depicting demonic spiritual entities from Hindu mythology are carried throughout the streets with much fanfare, and later, burned to ashes.
Sadly, 2021 (just as it was 2020) the magnificent Ogoh-ogoh Festival has been cancelled in compliance with strict health and safety procedures due to the Covid-pandemic.
“The Ogoh-Ogoh Festival is not part of the mandatory Holy Nyepi Festival, and therefore the parade for Nyepi Saka 1943 (Gregorian Year 2021) is cancelled,” said the head of Hindu Dharma Indonesia.
As such, those staying in Bali in the month of March 2021 will only experience the silent element of the Nyepi Festival.
The bright side of night
Looking at the brighter side of things, those who are in Bali now can look forward to a unique and incredible cultural experience, when the entire island submits to darkness and total silence. On the night of Nyepi, you’ll be able to stargaze like never before - shooting stars, the brilliance of the Milky Way and the gorgeous moon illuminating the island and the quiet, shimmering sea.
Perhaps in the near future, when the borders reopen and everything returns to normal, you will be able to experience all aspects of Nyepi including the various ceremonies leading up to the big day. We sure hope that you won’t miss such an incredible opportunity!
What does the galaxy look like from the edge of a sea cliff? Find out yourself at Mick’s Place Bali.