An illustration in a hotel at Legian Street in Kuta: source
On March 12, 2013, Bali will be celebrating the Hindu New Year. More commonly known as the Nyepi Day, this important event is when people drive away the evil spirits off their systems by contemplating on the wrong doings they did for the last year. Also known as the ‘silent day’, it is when the people concentrate of purifying themselves.
If your flights to Bali will coincide with the dates, it is therefore important that you inform yourself of how the Nyepi Day is celebrated. It is, after all, a religious celebration which is strictly observed. The whole event kicks off a day before the main celebration with the Melasti.
On the main Nyepi Day though, the whole Bali shuts off. It will be very silent, as if it’s a ghost town. Quite eerie, you can say; but locals believe that by doing so, evil spirits will think that the island is completely empty and would therefore not come there.
The Day of Silence means literal silence. Starting bonfires or turning the lights on is completely forbidden. All transportation systems cannot be used as locals tend to just stay at home. Nobody’s to work (all establishments will be closed). Nobody’s to enjoy.
Some would think that this is a rather peculiar form of celebrating but this one of the things which makes a travel to Bali interestingly unique. Tourists are mandated to join the whole island in observation so that means being confined within the hotel for one whole day. Some hotels provide dimmed lights and minimal food on that day. Swimming on the beach is also not allowed, but perhaps, plunging onto the pool will be.
Should you wish to not participate on the Nyepi Day, you can ride the boat to the nearby Gili Islands. You should come there a few days before the religious event, and it could get very overcrowded there.