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Avoid Lurking Demons on Bali's Nyepi Day

Published by Connie Motz, Writer

Country: Indonesia

The Experience

Located in southern Asia, the mystical island of Bali is only one of more than 17,000 islands making up the largest archipelago in the world, Indonesia. Bali offers a unique cultural experience along with a gorgeous tropical climate making the island the most popular vacation destination in Indonesia.

Within this unique culture comes tradition much different than that in North America. Hinduism is the main religion practiced on Bali and it’s common place for visitors to see an abundance of offerings, known as banten, placed several times daily along the roadside and streets to honor the Hindu gods. The offerings are made up of palm leaves, flowers, fruit, rice and incense.

In North America, New Year’s celebrations take the form of boisterous activities while on Bali, the New Year is met with a Day of Silence known as Nyepi Day. Held on the day after the spring equinox, usually in March, the Nyepi Day of Silence takes places from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

In the three days prior to Nyepi Day (known as Melasti or Mekiyis), Balinese streets are filled with giant paper-mache and bamboo sculpted monsters which ward off evil spirits. Proudly constructed by local Balinese youth, these larger-than-life creatures known as ogoh-ogohs are reconstructed from classic Balinese folklore as effigies to the Hindu Gods. Featuring bright colors, huge fangs, large bulging eyes, and out of control hair, they symbolize the evil spirits that must be removed from the island in order to maintain peace and harmony on Bali for the New Year ahead.

On the day prior to Nyepi Day, Tawur Kesanga, the island is exorcised from these evil looking ogoh-oghos. In Hindu tradition at sunset, a procession carries the ogoh-ogoh through the main part of the village where evil spirits are said to gather. Accompanied by a haunting combination of clanging cymbals, gongs, and drums, this loud clashing and clattering noise helps to scare away any evil demons that may be lurking about. Upon reaching the nearest beach, the ogoh-ogohs are set ablaze much to the delight of onlookers as the celebratory exorcism takes place.

The following morning brings Nyepi Day. Folklore states that if the island of Bali remains quiet and dark throughout Nyepi, it will fool any lurking demons into thinking that no one is home on the island of Bali and that they should visit elsewhere. The idea is to avoid the attention of the evil gods, meaning good luck and peace for the Balinese New Year to come.

For tourists, Nyepi Day means a day of 24-hour prohibition and restricted activities as no one is allowed to leave their resort or accommodations, nor go to the beach. All restaurants, stores, and businesses throughout the island are closed on Nyepi Day. Vacationers are asked to kindly respect this Balinese tradition and to cooperate by returning to their rooms in the early evening and by drawing their curtains tight so as not to let any light escape to attract wandering spirits.

Residents of Bali are required to remain in their homes and observe the basic laws of Nyepi Day: no driving, no working, no eating, no noise-making, no visible lights, and no entertainment or love-making.

The Balinese people display kindness and genuine sincerity to their visitors making it easy to comply and respect this most honored annual tradition of Nyepi Day.

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When to Go to Nyepi Bali

Nyepi Day or Balinese New Year’s Day happens annually in March or April and is determined by the cycle of the dark moon in relation to the Spring Equinox.

Even though Nyepi Day is spent in silence, it is a day in Bali, nevertheless. Take the time to enjoy the colourful ogoh-ogohs and festivities beforehand and then revel in taking part in an authentic Balinese religious experience.

Carpe Diem! Book to do this experience now!

Nyepi Packages
Starting from $165.00 per person.
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