Shhh! It's Bali's Day of Silence

Balinese monsters Ogoh-Ogoh on blue sky background

As it's the end of the working week, you may be planning to let your hair down. Not so in Bali!

Today is Nyepi, which marks the Balinese Saka New Year. This is when all of the island retreats into silence for 24 hours. On this day, dedicated to meditation and prayer, there are no flights into or out of Bali, nobody works, cooks or travels, shops remain closed, all streets are deserted and no lights are switched on, even after sunset. The general explanation is that the quietude will trick the bhutas and kalas (demons) into believing that the island has been abandoned so that they, too, will leave.

Nyepi is perhaps the most important of the island’s religious days and the prohibitions are taken seriously. Hotels are exempt from Nyepi’s rigorous practices but the streets are closed to both pedestrians and vehicles (except for emergency vehicles). Pecalang (village wardens) are posted to keep people off the streets and the beach.

The night before Nyepi, however, is filled with activity. Exciting street processions take place as the evil spirits are driven away with gongs, drums, cymbals, exploding firecrackers, bamboo cannons and huge, scary, highly creative papier-mâché monster effigies known as ogoh-ogoh, some of which are later burnt amid much revelry.

So, if you're planning to raise a cheer to the fast approaching weekend, consider whether a silent fist pump might draw a little less attention from the Balinese bhutas and kalas.

Visiting Bali

The dry season runs from May to September, with August being the coolest month. To find out more, take a look at our Insight Guide Bali and Lombok

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