In only a few hours we are entering the New Year 1936 and embarking it with Nyepi, the “Day of Silence”, which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox. On the Saka calendar, a lunar calendar brought from south India to Indonesia around 465AD, we are 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar.
Nyepi is a unique experience and there is no other day like it anywhere else in the world. It is a time to create and keep the balance of nature and a day of self-introspection, meditation and fasting.
It is perhaps one of Bali’s most sacred days and prohibitions are taken seriously. From 6am to 6am the next morning no lights or fires are allowed; no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling (even the airport is closed); and, for some, no talking or eating at all. Streets are deserted, and tourists are not allowed to leave hotel complexes. This whole island, populated by over 3 million, quite literally resembles an eerie, post-apocalyptic world with not a soul to be seen, or a voice to be heard. It is believed; that in this time the evil spirits passing the island and Balinese ingeniously fool them into thinking Bali is completely empty.
On New Year’s Eve as much noise as possible is made to scare away the devils. Everybody joins in to help scaring of the evil spirits by beating pots and tin cans, tooting vehicle horns and making lots of noise. Demon dolls called ogoh-ogoh made of papier-mâché and bamboo are carried through the streets in colourful parades, which after the dark get ceremoniously burned.
After this very special day, which I am spending with two friends in a gorgeous house in Canggu, I will share my very personal Nyepi experience with you.
But for now… ssshhhhhh!