One of the most memorable moments in Bali was taking part in Nyepi, the Balinese New Year celebrations. This year it was held on March 23rd.
As part of the Balinese Hindu tradition, ogoh-ogoh statues are made for the Ngrupuk parade which is held on the eve of their New Year’s day. The ogoh-ogoh are huge demonic, monster looking creatures that are created by the youth or artists of every village and are made out of materials like bamboo and paper. On the eve of Nyepi, the Balinese will parade them throughout the towns to bewilder the evil spirits and eventually they are carried to the cemeteries to be burnt into ashes as a way of exorcising the evil. Makaio and I were near the Ubud palace so we were fortunate that seeing the parade didn’t require a cab ride. So for about 5 hours we watched the streets fill with both locals and tourists alike and observed what was for us, a “once in a lifetime” type of event.
Following that was Nyepi day, also known as the Day of Silence, and is celebrated by the Balinese as a day of self-reflection. Nyepi day is observed for a full 24 hours that starts at 6am and ends at 6am the following day. During this time, there is no work, no entertainment, no fire (or electricity), no lights, and no travelling. Even the airport in Bali is closed on this day. As part of Bali Hinduism, Nyepi is also a day of fasting and typically families stay at home meditating and avoiding any kind of noise. On this day, the world is expected to be clean and starts as new. Luckily, as guests of our hotel, we were provided with electricity, wifi and were generously treated with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The staff even provided mid-day snacks for everyone. But still, we were respectful of those celebrating this holy day by whispering all day and keeping as quiet as possible within the grounds of our hotel – and trust me, it wasn’t that hard with AC, food, and a pool near by
-M & A