Celebrating the Hindu New Year
On the 21st of March, Balinese Hindus will observe Nyepi, or Day of Silence, to mark the Hindu new year. While the majority of Indonesia is a Muslim nation, the majority of Bali’s nearly 4 million population practice a local version of Hinduism.
The day before Nyepi – Bhuta Yajna – the evil spirits will be warded from the island with the use of Ogoh Ogoh. These are big, scary looking statues that can be up to 4 meters high. These impressive monsters will be placed in the main crossroad of villages where the evil spirits are known to gather, as it’s easy to harm humans by provoking accidents. At nightfall all villagers gather at the crossroad and make a lot of noise with firecrackers and music to scare the demons away, and at the end of the ceremony, the Ogoh Ogoh will be burned, loud gamelan music will be played and people will dance around with torches, making an intensely moving experience.
During Nyepi day, from 6am until 6am, Balinese Hindus will avoid what they see as taboos, which include turning on lights, going outside, and enjoying entertainment. Visitors to Bali are asked to stay within the confines of their accommodation, as no one except Pecalang (traditional security guards) who enforce these rules are to be on the street.
During Nyepi, the Airport and Sea Ports are closed and no cars, motorcycles or people are allowed on the road or in the streets. Television and radio stations halt broadcasting and there is to be no noise made to disturb the peace.
Nyepi is a day of reflection, silence, fasting and meditation to bring in the Hindu new year.
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