While the rest of the world open the New Year with parties and fireworks, the Balinese open their New Year in silence. This is called Nyepi Day, the Balinese Day of Silence, which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox. This year it is on 9th of March.
Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and meditation where people stay at home and refrain from all worldly and physical activities for 24 hours. The customary is to practice yoga semedi and catur berata penyepian or the four abstinences— refraining from lighting fires or using lights, refraining from working, refraining from indulging in leisure activities, and refraining from traveling.
The streets are quiet, no vehicles, no people, nobody is doing their normal daily activities—even tourists are asked not to leave their hotels. The usually hectic streets and beaches of Kuta and Seminyak are all deserted. Only Pecalangs (traditional community security officers) are allowed to roam the streets, to maintain the security and ensuring that Nyepi is observed properly.
On Nyepi day, the world is expected to be clean and everything starts anew. From the religious and philosophical point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self-introspection, to deciding on values; humanity, love, patience and kindness— values that should be long preserved.
So if you happen to be staying on Nyepi Day in Bali, this will be a great opportunity to experience a day without buzzing of civilization, and that can be very powerful. Nyepi is one of the reasons that Bali is a unique island.
Things to Know about Nyepi
• It starts at 6:00 in the morning on 9th March and ends at 6:00 the next day.
• The island is practically “closed”, no access entering or exit Bali during Nyepi day. The airport and harbors are closed, the roads are off limit to all types of vehicles and pedestrians.
• Shops, restaurants, and all businesses are closed. Only hotels and hospitals are exempt from Nyepi’s rigorous practices.
• Basically, anything other than being indoors is restricted.
• Please respect the tradition by turning down all sound and noises to minimum volume. While at night, make sure that all curtains are drawn shut with minimum lights being used. Particularly if you staying in villages outside of Bali’s southern tourist belt as the prohibitions are taken seriously.