Nyepi Procession.


This an intense period of ceremonial activities performed by Balinese Hindus. Some ‘disruptions’ (by Western standards) are inevitable. To the Balinese, they are not ‘disruptions’ at all, but an
integral part of Bali’s spiritual life. They are opportunities for contemplation, purification and celebration. Respect that, and consider these as an opportunity to further understand Balinese
culture. Plan ahead – and you will enjoy the coming week even more.


The Melasti processions take place today, three days prior to the Saka New Year (Nyepi). Participants walk along roads from temples to the coast, where purification rituals take place on the beaches.
Location: The beaches of Kuta, Sanur and elsewhere around Bali.

Planning ahead: Be aware that some roads you wish to travel on will be blocked off for several hours at a time. Delays are inevitable, so plan to take detours, reschedule local travel plans, or just go and watch the spectacle.

Melasti upacara sebelum Nyepi di Bali14


The eve of the Saka New Year is a hive of activity with all the preparation for the late evening celebrations taking place in the afternoon. After dark, the incredibly huge, grotesque and inventive ogoh-ogoh effigies are carried through the streets. The parade is intended to rid Bali of malevolent forces and to prepare for the next day’s silent and contemplative day of Nyepi.

Planning ahead: Be aware that many main roads will be blocked off for the ogoh-ogoh parades in the evening. If you have guests arriving late today, warn them that taxis may not be able to get
them all the way to their hotels if their route has to cross a street closed for the parade. A yearly sight on this day is groups of tired and grumpy travellers trying to walk from somewhere near
Nakula to their beachside hotels – carrying all their luggage, and their children – because they have simply been dumped by their taxis.

The Day of Silence and Seclusion, Saka New Year 1938

Nyepi is the quietest day in Bali. From 6am onwards, everyone must stay indoors and no-one is permitted on the streets except for the traditional village guards – the Pecelang – who patrol all
areas for 24 hours to ensure compliance with Nyepi rules. No sound is permitted to escape from dwellings and absolute silence is enforced. The airport is closed to all traffic, as are all the roads. TV stations stop transmission for the entire 24 hours. All businesses are closed, except for hotels. And even in hotels, loud sounds are discouraged and guests must not leave the hotel grounds.

After nightfall, no light is permitted to escape from residences. If people are not using blackout curtains, the Pecelang can, and sometimes do, cut power lines to offending households if their warnings are not heeded.

The Nyepi Day of Silence ends at 6am on Thursday, 10 March, when all light, sound and travel restrictions are lifted.

Note: There is also partial solar eclipse in the Denpasar area on this Nyepi Day, beginning at 07:22, reaching a maximum at 08:27 and ending at 09:42. It will not get totally dark as it does for a total eclipse. DO NOT look at the sun to try and view it, even with the so-called “filters’ being sold by some. You won’t see much, and all that will happen is you will suffer permanent blindness from retinal burns.
Eclipse Information: http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/indonesia/denpasar

Planning ahead: Do your shopping early. If you run out of any essentials such as food, water or medical supplies during the 24 hours, you will not be able to buy anything. If you need to use lighting inside, ensure that windows are effectively blacked out. If you have a noisy airconditioner, don’t use it. You may be cut off if you do. Any automatic emergency lighting should be switched to off, so if power fails at night you won’t suddenly be lit up like a monument. And of course, if music is your life, get a pair of headphones for use during Nyepi.

The Day after Nyepi

The silence of Nyepi ‘breaks’ at 06:00. This day is a local holiday in Bali to allow families to visit each other for gatherings and short trips. Many businesses and shops are closed.

Some local festivals continue on this day in some areas. One of interest is Omed-Omedan, ‘The Festival of Splashes and Smooches’, held in Banjar Kaja, Sesetan village, Denpasar. Traditionally, the youth of the sub-village of Banjar Kaja Sesetan take to the streets to splash and spray water, and partake in a tug-of-war-like event, which surrounds a lucky couple in the middle who are ‘forced’ to kiss each time the crowd surges back and forth.

Planning ahead: Make sure your pre-Nyepi shopping is adequate to get you through Thursday if your local shops are amongst those closed today. If travelling through the Sesetan area, be aware that streets may be blocked for Omed-Omedan – and be prepared to get wet if you stray into the festivities.

Enjoy the festivities!

* by Vyt Karazija

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