Every culture and religion in the world has its own way to define and celebrate the coming of the New Year. The Hindus of Bali welcome the New Year based on the traditional Saka Calendar with the ritual of Nyepi.
The name Nyepi, meaning “to keep silent” in the local language, falls this year on March 31st, 2014. Nyepi is a day fully dedicated to connect oneself more closely with God (Hyang Widi Wasa) through prayers and at the same time as a day of self introspection to decide on values, such as humanity, love, patience, kindness and others, that should be kept forever.
On this day, the entire island of Bali will come to a complete standstill.
As a day reserved for self-reflection, anything that might interfere with that purpose is strictly prohibited. No planes will land or take off for 24 hours. All shops are closed. No one is allowed on the beach or on the streets. There will be local watchmen known as pecalang to ascertain that this rule is obeyed. At night, all lights will have to be turned off. Hotels will close all curtains that no ray of lights shines to the outside. All sound and music indoors should be held to its lowest volume. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and woman about to give birth.
Nyepi in Bali is an extraordinary experience indeed to find a whole island completely silent as if deserted, enveloped in an atmosphere of absolute tranquility and peace.