The period of total silence on the Island of Gods will be between
Wednesday, 22nd March 6am, and Thursday, 23rd March 6am.
Everyone needs to stay at home, shut the lights, remain quiet. Nobody is allowed to be outside.
Nyepi – Known as the Day of Silence
You should know, during Nyepi is a sacred Hindu holiday in Bali, and an important public holiday for the rest of Indonesia. Contrary to several other cultures all around the world who celebrate the New Year with dynamic and sparkling festivities, the crowning point of the Balinese New Year 6 day celebration is a day dedicated to complete silence – Nyepi.
Nyepi & the Balinese Calendar
The start of the “Caka” year – the Balinese New Year is celebrated by the Hindus over a period of six days. Nyepi is a day for the Hindu Balinese to dedicate themselves completely to connect more deeply with God (Hyang Widi Wasa) through prayer, fasting and meditation. Acts of introspection of the Self, to evaluate the personal values they would bring into the new year.
One full year of the Balinese calendar consists of 12 sasih (Balinese months). Each month (sasih) consists of 35 days which is usually a complete cycle of one new moon ( dark moon or Tilem) and one full moon (Purnama). The entire island goes dark and comes to a complete standstill as Nyepi rolls around on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when day and night are of approximately equal duration.
This religious ceremony is bigger and more lavish than any other in the year. The folklore surrounding the island claims that after celebrations to kick off Nyepi, the island goes into hiding to protect itself from evil spirits by enveloping an atmosphere of a peaceful, deserted island.
What happens during Nyepi
The night before: Ogoh-ogoh parades
Balinese men (and boys) carry frightening statues up to 25 feet tall and can be very heavy. With the help of a bamboo grid, the streets are accompanied by noise and gamelan music. Tourists and visitors are welcome to watch the parades, take pictures and witness this unique spectacle. Some of these ogoh-ogoh are burnt after the parade. Although these rituals take place over the entire island, one can experience the best processions either in Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur and other famous beaches. Each village makes at least one spectacular Ogoh-Ogoh and takes pride in the entire process.
The day of: Nyepi
The entire island is “closed”, including the airport as there will be no incoming or outgoing flights. The roads are off limited, as everyone is expected to stay indoors for 24 hours. Because no one should be out and about, you’re prohibited from entering any beaches, and all restaurants, grocery stores, and other types of shops will be closed for everyone. Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents and travelers in Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens.
To ensure that all the rules are obeyed, local guards known as Pecalang (Nyepi Police) are deployed all over the Island, patroling their respective areas. The only exceptions are life-threatening conditions and women in labor as hospitals will still be open.
The day after: Ngembak Geni
Social activity picks up again very quickly the next day. As families and friends come together and socialize after staying indoors for 24 hours, they ask for forgiveness from one another as a way of letting go the past. Different areas have different ways they celebrate Ngembak Agni, which is a day to rejoice and spend the day outside. A relatively well-known ritual is the Kissing Ceremony, where non-married people are paired together and have to kiss as part of the celebration. Other places have fun activities such as mudbathing, or markets that suddenly appear and pop-up for the day to celebrate.
Nyepi Rituals and the significance
A series of rituals are conducted in every part of the island through the holy week towards Nyepi Day. Although the Balinese New Year span across 6 days, the Day of Silence is just one aspect of the celebration.
The first is The Melasti (Melis or Mekiis) Ritual which is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa and performed 3–4 days beforehand to acquire sacred water from the sea. The ritual is performed in Pura (Balinese temple) near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify sacred objects such as Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga belonging to several temples. Similar rituals are performed at the Balekambang Beach on the southern coast of Malang, East Java; it is the ritual of Jalani Dhipuja.
Bhuta Yajna Ritual & Ogoh Ogoh Parade
The second is The Bhuta Yajna Ritual, which is performed one day before Nyepi, to vanquish negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual is also meant to win over Batara Kala (see below) by the Pecaruan offering. Tawur Kesanga and Caru are sacrificial and offering rituals that take place one day before the Nyepi Day.
Hindu Balinese villages start making ogoh-ogoh statues about two months before Nyepi. The ogoh-ogoh depicts evil spirits that appear as demonic, giant statues made of bamboo and paper. At sunset, between 5–6 pm, Balinese parade are passionately playing a loud mixture of the kulkul (traditional bamboo bell), claxons, gamelan music and drums, to expel the symbolized negative forces. The basic idea is to scare off evil spirits by making unbearable amounts of noise as is humanly possible.
The best processions take place either in Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur and other famous beaches. Each village makes at least one spectacular Ogoh-Ogoh and take pride in the entire process from start to finish. Oftentimes these areas would hold contests for the best Ogoh-Ogoh to be commemorated, while others are ceremoniously burnt in the central ritual of Ngrupuk to symbolize the eradication of any evil influences in life. Then is followed by more dancing, drinking and feasting in a somewhat chaotic fashion, all to drive evil spirits far away from the island. Not every ogoh-ogoh will be burnt these days, so ask the locals whether their village still follows this custom or not.
Nyepi – Day of Silence
This day is strictly reserved for self-reflection anything that might interfere with that purpose is strictly prohibited. When everything is starting anew, Nyepi expects a day of absolute silence, based on the four precepts of the Catur Brata:
Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity. Prohibition of satisfying pleasurable human appetites.
Amati Karya: No form of physical activity except things dedicated to spiritual cleansing and renewal.
Amati Lelunganan: No movement or traveling outside the home.
Amati Lelanguan: No revelry/self-entertainment or general pleasure.
The fourth is the Yoga Brata Ritual, which starts at 6:00 am on the day of Nyepi and continues to 6:00 am the next day. The more faithful Balinese would spend this day in meditation, but otherwise would follow the tradition of staying indoors.
Ngembak Agni / Labuh Brata Ritual
The fifth is the Ngembak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual which is performed the day after Nyepi and is the official New Years Day. Ngembak is the day when Catur Berata Penyepian is over, and the Balinese Hindus visit families, neighbours and relatives to exchange forgiveness.
They also conduct the Dharma Canthi, activities of reading Sloka, Kekidung and Kekawi (ancient scripts containing songs and lyrics). The youth of Bali practise the ceremony of Omed-omedan or The Kissing Ritual to celebrate the new year.
When is Nyepi in Bali?
|Nyepi 2023||Wednesday, 22 March||1945|
|Nyepi 2024||Monday, 11th March||1946|
|Nyepi 2025||Saturday, 29th March||1947|
|Nyepi 2026||Thursday, 19th March||1948|
|Nyepi 2027||Monday, 08th March||1949|
|Nyepi 2028||Sunday, 26th March||1950|
|Nyepi 2029||Thursday, 15th March||1951|
|Nyepi 2030||Tuesday, 5th March||1952|
If you come across the name, Batara Kala
For the Balinese, Batara Kala is the god of the Underworld and god of destruction. He is the son of Shiva (Batara Guru) and was initially being sent to earth to punish humans for wrongdoings and evil habits. Balinese believe, that Batara Kala also “consumes” unlucky humans, so they are performing the Bhuta Yajna ritual to scare off unluckiness and evil. Balinese believe that Batara Kala is the bringer of solar and lunar eclipses because he is the enemy of the god of the sun and the god of the moon. So for the love of sun and moon gods, they perform sacrifices to ward Batara Kara off.