Bali’s famous ‘Day of Silence’ is a unique and unforgettable occasion, when locals observe strict rules relating to worship and self-sacrifice, and visitors can see a powerful example of the hold that ancient religious traditions continue to have on this magical holiday island.
Also known as Isakawarsa, Nyepi is a celebration of the Saka New Year in Bali’s calendar. The day itself is actually the centrepiece to weeks of ceremonies, festivals, pilgrimages and celebrations. This is a great time of year to visit Bali, when the island’s full cultural complexity and artistic character take centre stage.
Bali’s next Nyepi festival will begin at 6.00 am on Wednesday, 25th March 2020
These spectacular processions, dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa, are purification rituals, in which sacred objects (Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga) belonging to the island’s many temples are taken to the sea for annual ablutions. The parades take place over three days leading up to Nyepi, when parasols, banners and effigies carried by thousands of pilgrims in traditional dress offer an amazing spectacle.
The eve of Bali’s Day of Silence is arguably its loudest; this is when the ogoh-ogoh statues are paraded in the streets. These elaborate and grotesque demonic statues, made of bamboo and paper, are made to symbolise Bali’s malevolent spirits. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded through the streets, they are ceremonially set alight, thereby banishing evil from the island for another year.
Nyepi – The Day of Silence
When all these raucous and sacred rituals have been completed, the Day of Silence can begin. In 2020, Nyepi will be marked from 6AM on Wednesday, 25th March until 6AM the following morning. During this 24-hour period, all daily activities in Bali stop; the streets are emptied, no music plays, no voices can be heard, and no-one steps outside their home or hotel for a whole day. For the devout Balinese, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, meditation, fasting and silence. The Balinese regard Nyepi as a sacred and much-anticipated special occasion. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no-one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day.
Some visitors prefer to avoid Bali at this time, as the restrictions around transport and accommodation can be a hindrance to holiday plans. Despite this, Nyepi is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime; festivities building up to Nyepi are spectacular, plus the day itself offers an eerily wonderful insight into the culture of Balinese celebrations and worship.
– No fires or lights
– No working
– No travelling
– No entertainment
– No internet or phone signal
– Beaches and airport closed
(Since 2018, certain local internet and telecommunication providers have also agreed to cut their service to Bali during the 24 hours of Nyepi. Visitors should expect some disruption to their connectivity during this time)