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Nyepi – The Balinese New Year Where Celebrating is Being Silent

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Nyepi is a festival and Bali’s Day of Silence that falls on the island’s Lunar New Year (it occurred on March 16th in 2010 and for 2011, will fall on April 4th). Unlike most other new years around the world, Nyepi is a quiet affair where people take the time to fast, meditate and self-reflect.  Nyepi is a Hindu holiday, however non-Hindu Balinese observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens.

Nyepi emphasizes self-reflection, thus anything that can interfere with this is prohibited.  So, during the day there are no televisions and radios on, travel is prohibited (the airport is also closed on this day), the streets are empty and for some no talking and eating is not allowed.  All businesses, bars and shops are closed as well.  Activities inside the home are very limited and the streets are empty, except for the Pecalang, official security guards who patrol the streets ensuring the prohibitions are being followed.

On the day before the celebrations, it is traditional to clean the home, cook meals and do all the necessary preparations before the silence and inactivity of the following day.  Traffic in the streets can be tight, as many will head out to purchase any last minute supply or perform any necessary duty before the day of silence.  Many villages will also hold festivals and carnivals where giant Ogoh-Ogoh monsters are paraded around.  Bleganjur, a Balinese gamelan music accompanies the procession.  Later in the evening, the monsters are lit and burned, symbolizing the driving away of evil spirits.

The mood and atmosphere is much quieter the next day.  Bali is practically a deserted island, except for the occasional sound of a barking dogs, chirping bird or buzzing insect.  Visitors to Bali are also expected to adhere to the holiday and are advised to stay indoors and not roam the streets.

The following day, the Balinese people would visit their relatives’ or friends’ homes and ask for forgiveness.  In addition, many will recite the Sloka, Kekidung or Kekawin (ancient Hindu scripts containing songs and lyrics).

Nyepi is perhaps the only day in the whole year in which travel to Bali is discouraged.  As mentioned before, residents strictly adhere to the holiday’s meaning of peace and self-realization.  For 364 other days in the year though, Bali is teeming with life and is often regarded as one of the world’s paradise locations.  Spend a memorable holiday at the island with your loved ones with our Bali Family Adventure tour.  This tour is designed with minimal travel in mind so you and your family can enjoy the program’s wide range of excursions and fully enjoy the island’s landscapes and cultures.  You can also see our suggested Indonesia tours page for other exciting ideas into this vast and wonderful country.  Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to tweak any of our tours.

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