Before going to the most magical place on earth – Bali, you should know about the magical holiday which is called Nyepi, Bali’s day of silence. Experiencing the holidays of other cultures while you travel is one of the many reasons people want to go in the first place. If you are very lucky you may travel to Bali and experience it to the fullest!
History of Nyepi Day
Nyepi is the Balinese “day of silence”, which is celebrated every Isakavarsa (Saka New Year) according to the Balinese calendar. It is a Hindu holiday celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi is a public holiday in Bali, resulting in a day of silence, fasting, and meditation. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year’s Day. On this day, the youth of Bali in the village of Sesetan, in southern Bali perform the omed omedan, or “kissing ritual” ceremony to celebrate the New Year.
Running from 6 am to 6 am the next morning, Nyepi is a day dedicated to reflection, and therefore everything that can interfere with this goal is limited. There is almost no lighting; it is not a working day, a day without entertainment, without traveling and sightseeing, and for some very dedicated individuals, without talking and even eating. The result of these bans is that the usually noisy streets and roads of Bali are empty, and there is no noise from tvs and radios. Signs of activity are not visible even inside the houses. The only people seen outdoors are the Pechalang, the traditional guards who patrol the streets to enforce the rules throughout Bali island.
Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents and tourists are not exempt from the restrictions. They are free to do whatever they want in their hotels and resorts as long as the noise is kept to a minimum, but no one is allowed to be on the beaches or the streets. Many of the hotel resorts offer special deals to guests to enjoy Nyepi Day to the fullest. An interesting fact is the only airport in Bali, Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar remains closed all day. Exceptions to being on the road are only for ambulances and other emergency services.
The day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Jeni (“Lighting the Fire”), things to do in Bali quickly resume. Families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from each other and perform certain religious rituals together. Fire and electricity are allowed again and cooking resumes. This is the oldest ritual celebrated in human history.
The new period begins with a new white page, to start life in the new year. This is the basis of the principle “Everything we do starts from scratch”. All of this becomes necessary and for Hindus brings an inner readiness for any challenge of life in the new year.
What you should know if you are visiting Bali during Nyepi:
Below is a list of some of the things to pay attention to while you are here. Knowing these will all help make your stay on the Island of Gods more enjoyable and not catch you by surprise.
· The silence begins at dawn around 6:00 am in Nyepi Bali and will continue for the next 24 hours.
· All shops are closed on Nyepi Day.
· Listen to music or watch TV at the lowest volume.
· Some kind of light source should be burning throughout the night, use a candle as a tribute.
· Since cafes and restaurants are closed on this day, have food or groceries prepared if you are not staying in a hotel.
· There is a possibility that the government will turn off cell towers, WI-FI, and TV broadcasts.
· On this day, public transport does not run on the island of Bali and taxis do not work, you may not even leave the confines of your accommodation.
· Ngurah Rai International Airport will be completely closed, so there will be no arrivals or departures at the airport on this day.
· In an emergency, you can call the emergency services.
Nyepi calendar for the next five years
2023 – Wednesday, March 22 (Balinese calendar year – 1945)
2024 – Monday, March 11 (Balinese calendar year – 1946)
2025 – Saturday, March 29 (Balinese calendar year – 1947)
2026 – Thursday, March 19 (Year of the Balinese calendar – 1948)
2027 – Monday, March 8 (Balinese calendar year – 1949)
What to do during Nyepi?
1. Approach Nyepi as extremely strict with meditation, fasting, and devoting time to calm thoughts about the meaning of life and plans for the future.
2. Go in another direction with some personal time with your favorite movies, buy tasty Balinese cuisine, and stay at home. Read some recommended books, and spend time with family and friends if they are here. And if you have a private yard, go out after dark to admire the stars at night.
3. Buy a Nyepi package at the hotel, where you can freely walk around the territory.
Some tips on how to spend Nyepi day, you can find here!
Four Prohibitions on the Day of Nyepi Catur Berata Penyepian
There are four bans during Nyepi, which are valid for exactly one day.
1. Amati Geni – A ban on fire or light. It also applies to electricity.
In all buildings, the residents will have their close windows and turn off the lights. Do not turn on the light in the evening. If the Balinese warriors-pechalang see it, they will come to chastise you or even throw a stone at your window. In this kind of case, you will be in the wrong, because you are breaking the law, and they are protecting it.
The electricity supply during Nyepi is working. But you can’t turn on the lights at night.
2. Amati Karya – A ban on work.
Nyepi is an official holiday throughout Indonesia, and even if there is no curfew on the other islands, the day is still a day off. But in Bali, all institutions are closed. And ATMs are turned off to prevent hacking. So make sure you have enough available funds to get you through the day.
3. Amati Lelungan – Travel ban.
It is so serious that Bali International Airport is closed during Nyepi. All flights for that day are canceled. By the way, this is the only airport closure in the world for religious reasons.
If it turns out that your purchased ticket to or from Bali is just on the date of Nyepi, contact the airline. Most likely your flight will be rescheduled. From 6 am until the next day at 6 am, no flights are operated at Bali Airport. No boats leave for Bali and from Bali at this time. The passage is allowed only for medical, fire, police, or emergency vehicles.
If you break the rules and decide to walk the streets outside of your hotel resort, the “vigilantes” may detain you and demand that you undergo a purification ceremony from evil spirits, often for a fee. A forbidden walk can cost you hundreds of thousands to several million Rupiah. In addition to the fact that leaving the house during Nyepi can entail serious expenses, it is also disrespectful to the traditions of Bali and Hinduism. Don’t be that kind of visitor!
Bali residents, deprived of the opportunity to go out and enjoy the nightlife, divert their souls to the Internet and the internet traffic throughout the island increases by about a quarter. But electricity consumption is reduced by half.
4. Amati Lelanguan – A ban on Balinese entertainment and pleasure.
This ban extends to food, smoking, music, and more. Spiritual leaders in Bali do not approve of too many fun entertainment programs during Nyepi in hotels and beach resorts. In most hotels, during Nyepi, you can walk around the territory and swim, but noisy and very active events are prohibited.
But a lot of people don’t take the entertainment ban very seriously. They eat, listen to music, watch movies, or smoke without trying to attract attention. At the same time, there are deeply religious people in Bali and the other islands who spend Nyepi in meditation, and silence and do not eat on this day.
It was because of this ban on entertainment that a few years ago in Bali they began to turn off the Internet. In 2021, the Hindu Religious Council decided to keep this tradition alive moving forward. Sometimes, by chance, in some hotels and some Bali providers in certain areas, the Internet continues to work. But it is difficult to predict in advance exactly where it will be.
All four of these bans apply to both Balinese and foreigners. Everyone is in Bali, the neighboring islands of Nusa Penida, Lembongan, and Ceningan.
Be sure to observe the prohibitions of Nyepi. In this case, you will not only avoid the dissatisfaction of the local religious community but also get a new unusual experience that can bring you interesting emotions and stories to pass on. If you are planning on staying longer on the island read up on more about the Balinese people and culture.