The Day before Nyepi
Before the silent day in Bali—Nyepi Day—begins, there will be a lot of noise! The name of the day is called Tilem Kesanga or Ngerupuk. The Ogoh-Ogoh parades take place all over the island. Ogoh-Ogohs are giant puppets made of wood, bamboo, and paper-mâché, mostly constructed by young Balinese men. They look scary and demonic as they represent Bhuta Kala or evil spirits. The purpose of this noisy ritual is to banish negativity and evil from the island and its inhabitants. Each village or Banjar in most of the regions of Bali creates their Ogoh-Ogohs and proudly presents them during the parade, accompanied by loud Gamelan music. To keep the evil spirits from finding their way back, the next day will have no lights, no cooking smells, and no noise.
Nyepi, the Balinese silent day, is celebrated every Isakawarsa (Saka New Year) according to the Balinese calendar, marking the new year for the Hindhu in Bali. Nyepi 2020 falls on 26 March. The purpose of Nyepi is to pray to the gods to purify Bhuana Alit (human nature/microcosmic) and Bhuana Agung (universe/macrocosmic). Traditionally, Nyepi is reserved for self-reflection, and meditation, many also refrain from eating or talking. Anything that might interfere with peace is strongly restricted for 24 hours, starting at 6 AM.
Nyepi is derived from the word sepi which means silence. Four principles govern this special day:
- Amati Geni: no fire, light, or electricity
- Amati Karya: no working
- Amati Lelungan: no travelling
- Amati Lelangunan: no self-entertainment
For once, the hustle and bustle quiet down. No cars are allowed on the streets—except for emergency vehicles—, restaurants, shops, and offices are closed and so is the airport. In the private homes and resorts, there should be no noise, no lights, no smells of cooking or entertainment taking place, including TV and internet. The only people allowed outdoors are the Pecalang, the traditional security men who patrol the streets in order to ensure that all Nyepi rules are being observed. Although Nyepi is a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents and tourists in Bali are not excluded from the restrictions.
The Day after Nyepi
The day after Nyepi is called Ngembak Geni. It translates to relighting the fire and means that social activities pick up again, families and friends get together to ask forgiveness from one another and perform certain religious rituals together. Fires, electricity, and cooking are allowed again.
Experiencing Nyepi in Bali
It is difficult to explain the wonder of Nyepi. You can feel that the whole island is at peace, even the animals like roosters and dogs are quieter than on normal days. As so many are spending the silent day meditating and in self-reflection the energy is amazing. It is highly recommended to turn off your phones and other digital gadgets to fully emerge in this wonderful experience. Nyepi Day is also a perfect day for the environment as the effect on co2 emissions is quite remarkable.
Nyepi Day is often sunny which results in a clear and cloudless night. Thanks to the lack of lights on the island, the night sky will show its beauty and millions of stars will light up the darkness in a way that most of us today seldom get to see. If your visit to Bali happens around Nyepi and the thought of not being able to go out of your villa or resort for a day might seem strange, worry not, you will be compensated by an unforgettable experience that will make you wish there was more than just one Day of Silence in the year. If you are renting a villa, get some food ready the day before. If you are staying in a hotel or a resort or at Oneworld Retreats and Oneworld Ayurveda, the staff will take care of you, so just relax and enjoy this special day in Bali.