The day when entire Island comes to a standstill is called Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” and falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of approximately equal duration.
The day of silence across Bali
The Island of Bali celebrates Nyepi, the Balinese new year and Hindu celebration, by shutting down and having a DAY OF SILENCE. One fun part of the Balinese new year is the Ogoh-Ogoh parades on ‘Nyepi Eve,’ for the Bhuta Yajna ritual. Large, scary-looking statues are carried through the streets with lots of music and noise. They are brought to the beach in a torch-lit procession while people bang pots and beep horns to make as much noise as they can, to scare away evil. This is called mabuu-buu. The statues are of demons, representing negative elements.
Several days leading up to the turn of the Saka New Year and its full day of silence, Balinese Hindus get into lively procession mode. Pilgrims from various village temples all over Bali convey heirlooms on long walks towards the coastlines where elaborate purification ceremonies take place. It is one of the best times to capture on camera one of the most iconic Balinese images in motion – the sight of brightly-clad devotees carrying elaborate parasols, banners and small effigies against the blue sky and rolling surf. It’s certainly a cultural spectacle.
With practically zero light pollution you’re in for the year’s most immersive night sky over Bali when the stars shine their brightest and the Milky Way reveals itself. You can simply pick a spot by the poolside to lay back and gaze at the wonders of the universe, or whip out your tripod and capture some stunning images.
Unique in this World
The start of “Caka” year – Balinese New Year – is celebrated by the Hindus over a course of six days, with the ogoh-ogoh parades after sunset of day two and Nyepi, day of silence, falling on day three.
Nyepi is a day that the Hindu Balinese dedicate completely to connect more deeply with God (Hyang Widi Wasa) through prayer, fasting and meditation with an additional layer of introspection of the Self, to evaluate personal values such as love, truth, patience, kindness, and generosity.
This religious ceremony is bigger and more lavish than any other in the year. There is a myth that, after the boisterous and active celebrations of day 1 and day 2, the Island goes into hiding to protect itself from the evil spirits, fooling them to believe that Bali, enveloped in an atmosphere of complete tranquility and peace, is a deserted Island. This myth dates back to the mythical times of evil spirits, Gods, superheroes and witches.
On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together. Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens.
Nyepi Day like almost all Balinese religious festivals and holy days is always calculated based on the Balinese calendar (Caka or Saka). 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 cicle of one new moon ( dark moon or Tilem) and one full moon (Purnama).