The month of March brings Nyepi – the day of silence throughout the whole of Bali Island. In the Balinese Hindu lunar calendar (Saka), Nyepi is New Year’s Day. It falls on the 7th of March, 2019. It is the first day of the 10th month of New Saka calendar year of 1941. It is the first night of the moon starts waxing. The day to implement Catur Brata Penyepian, the four religious restrictions are to be observed and practiced within a 24 hour day. No Travel, No Amusement, No Fire, No Work.
It is a day wholly dedicated to rest, staying in, turning off the lights and keeping quiet for 24 hours. It is one of the biggest and most unique ceremonies of the year, where staying in and resting is enforced by bylaws. It is practiced island-wide where the Balinese dedicate an entire day to self-introspection, meditation, and spiritual cleansing. No businesses are open, no transport is allowed on the roads (except for emergency services), even the airport and seaports are shut down for 24 hours. Nyepi is a sacred day to give the island a break from 364 days of human activity, so Bali can replenish and recharge for the New Year.
One day before Nyepi is Pengerupukan, the day to present Pecaruan, an offering dedicated to underworld spirits. It is placed on the cross roads and house gates. The offering aims at appeasing the demons. The communities also bang anything to produce the noise to awake and gather all the demons at twilight. The moment is considered the demon’s time to travel. The demons are meant to enjoy the offerings. The following day, the whole island is deserted. It indicates the whole island is emptied. The demons will leave the island because they see no man around. They have no one to play with for something coarse. All stay in house unless Pecalang, the traditional security guards are assigned to patrol the areas to ensure that no one violates the Nyepi restrictions.
Some parades of ogoh-ogoh, the giant demon look dolls, are organized to be performed for public as an entertainment in the entire island. In some of regencies, it is contested. The size, color, artistic and other ornaments are to contribute to the whole demon character image to be looked at by the jury as the criterions to win the contest. Some of ogoh- ogoh look possibly illustrate the public figures whom are convicted for a crime.
In some villages in Bali, they have their own auspicious day of silence, Nyepi Adat. It also occurred to Bugbug village in Karangasem regency on the 5th of February, 2019. The whole village only was shut down. Any vehicle passing through the village’s main roads is not allowed to make a single stop along the village territory to show the respect of this tradition practice.
The accommodations with no exception remain operating the business within their own units’ premises only. Meals are served within restricted hours of operation. Lights at night are minimized. It won’t distract the attention of the Pecalang on duty. Experiencing the day of silence in the Island of Paradise Bali might be a memory in lifetime. You won’t find it in other parts of the world.