Bali gears up for 24 hours of silence on Nyepi

Balinese people carry an 'ogoh-ogoh' effigy during a parade ahead of the Day of Silence, known as Nyepi, in Denpasar, Bali, on March 18. - AFP

DENPASAR (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): Bali is getting ready for 24 hours off as Balinese Hindus on the resort island will observe Nyepi, its day of silence, on Wednesday (March 22).

All entries to Bali will be suspended from Wednesday at 6am Central Indonesia Time (WITA) until 6am the next day, including all harbours and the I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.

During Nyepi, no vehicles will be allowed on the streets except for emergency services.

Lights will also be turned off at night, except at certain public facilities such as hospitals and police stations. Hotels will be allowed to turn on minimum lighting and tourists will be confined to hotel compounds.

All markets, shops, offices, cafes, bars, restaurants and other public spaces will be closed.

People on the island are expected to refrain from using all forms of home entertainment, such as televisions, radios and the internet.

“We observe Nyepi, the day of silence, once a year to mark the Caka Lunar New Year, a new year based on the Caka Lunar Calendar. We will spend the day in self-contemplation, evaluating what we have done in the past and what we should do to be a better person in the future,” Bali chairman of the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council (PHDI) Bali Chapter, Nyoman Kenak, said on Monday.

On the holiday, Balinese Hindus are prohibited from several activities. The main four prohibitions are amati geni (abstaining from lighting fires), amati karya (abstaining from work), amati lelungan (abstaining from venturing outside the family compound) and amati lelanguan (abstaining from enjoying entertainment).

This year, Nyepi is also expected to fall on the beginning of Ramadan, when Muslims perform the tarawih evening prayer. Muslims across the island will be allowed to perform tarawih prayer in the nearest mosque, on foot, without using loudspeakers and with limited lighting.

However, Muslims who have no mosque near their house were urged to perform tarawih prayer at their respective houses.

“Actually, this is not the first time Nyepi is falling on the same day as another religious holiday. So, we have faced the same situation many times,” Kenak said.

General manager of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, said the airport will temporarily suspend air travel operations, specifically for commercial flights, for 24 hours.

The airport closure had been coordinated with the airlines.

"The cessation of operations during Nyepi day is stated in Notice To Airmen [NOTAM] No. 0018/23 and has been communicated with the entire airport community since three months ago," Handy said.

"During the closing period, emergency flights and medical evacuation were excluded. We can still serve these flights with certain requirements," he added.

Throughout 2023, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport served an average daily of 49,000 domestic and international passengers, as well as 360 aircraft movements per day.

Bali Police chief Putu Jayan Danu Putra said the police area was ready to secure Nyepi day.

Police will conduct patrols along with pecalang (Balinese traditional guards). Police will also give special attention to securing the ogoh-ogoh parade on the eve of Nyepi on Tuesday evening.

“I am sure that Nyepi falling on the first day of tarawih will be fine. Nothing to be worried about,” Jayan Danu said.

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