Why one of the world’s most popular islands falls completely silent for a day

Why one of the world’s most popular islands falls completely silent for a day - Arts and Culture - News

Bali’s Nyepi: The Day of Silence and Reflection

Bali, Indonesia, renowned for its vibrant culture and tropical beauty, is a favorite destination for travelers around the world. The bustling streets of this Indonesian paradise are filled with the constant hum of motorbikes and the lively tunes of local cafes. However, there is one day every year when the island falls into an unprecedented silence.

A Day of Contemplation: Nyepi, Balinese New Year

Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, is a unique celebration unlike any other. Unlike many other cultures that mark new beginnings with fireworks or festivities, the Balinese Hindus observe this day with silence and introspection. For 24 hours starting at 6 a.m., Balinese Hindus fast, meditate, and stay home with their families. Electricity is turned off, and the streets are left empty save for the occasional ambulance.

Island-Wide Observance

The impact of Nyepi extends beyond the local community, as all tourists visiting during this period are affected. Airports and tourist attractions are closed, and hotels do not process check-ins or check-outs on Nyepi day.

Preparing for Nyepi: Ngrupuk and the Parade of Ogoh-Ogoh

The day before Nyepi is known as Ngrupuk, a time when communities come together to create and parade giant effigies called ogoh-ogoh. These papier-mache representations of evil spirits are symbolically burned after the parade, signifying the release of negative energy before the day of silence and reflection.

Celebrating Balinese Values

“From a religious and philosophical perspective, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self-introspection,” says Professor Wayan Ari, academic director of the School for International Training and a native Balinese. “It is an opportunity to reflect on the values of our humanity, such as love, patience, and kindness that should be within ourselves for the rest of our lives.”

Ngrupuk: A Day to Let Go of Noise and Embrace Tranquility

“The purpose of Ngrupuk is to let go of all the noise-making before Nyepi,” explains Wayan. “It’s a time for families to come together and perform rituals like carrying torches, making noises, spitting meswi spice, and building crosses.”

Balinese Hinduism: Unique Practices and Beliefs

Despite being part of the larger Indonesian archipelago, where Islam is the dominant religion, Balinese Hinduism remains an intriguing exception. Hindu holidays such as Holi and Diwali are not as popular on the island as Nyepi, a testament to its unique customs and practices.

Experiencing Nyepi: A Day of Stillness and Connection

Jero Mangku Tindih, resort manager at Viceroy Bali, takes great pride in sharing the traditions and beliefs of his culture with visitors. The hotel offers special packages for guests to learn about Nyepi and participate in Ngrupuk festivities.

The Power of Tradition

“Although we respect our culture, we also cater to our guests’ needs,” says Tindih. “Even if they are not Balinese Hindus, they can still experience Nyepi in their unique way.”

Unexpected Encounters: Embracing the Unexpected in Bali

American freelance writer Margot Biggs discovered Nyepi unexpectedly during her 2019 visit to Ubud. While she wasn’t aware of the holiday or its regulations at the time of booking, she was informed by her hotel about the observances and found herself captivated by the tradition.

The Beauty of Balance: Nyepi and Modern Life

“Nyepi is a beautiful tradition that can benefit everyone, regardless of religious beliefs,” says Biggs. “It’s a reminder to slow down, reflect on our lives, and embrace the silence that can lead to inner peace.”

A Day to Reflect and Connect: Balinese New Year in Bali

From the hustle and bustle of daily life to the profound silence and introspection, Nyepi offers a unique perspective on living in harmony with oneself and the world around us. Whether you plan your visit to Bali around this day or find yourself there unexpectedly, Nyepi is an experience that transcends time and space, leaving a lasting impression on all those who witness it.