A Day of Silence

Picture this: the absence of people and noise, deserted streets (even Kuta!) and later on, pitch black. Silent night. That’s what is going to happen on Hari Raya Nyepi (Day of Silence) on the usually very busy island of Bali on March 28. It’s a day where even the airport is closed, save for emergencies.
You might feel anxiety in the face of full-on silence and non-activity, not to mention the looming darkness as you’re not even allowed to light a candle at night. But look past the silence and you’ll learn to appreciate the moment.
It’s the Balinese Hindu’s New Year, or the turn of the Saka year, that this year will fall on a Tuesday, celebrating 1 Saka 1939. From 6am to 6am the next day, it’ll be a day of complete self-reflection. “It’s a time for introspection regarding what we have done in the past year, and evaluate what can we do to change the negative into something positive in this new year,” says I Mangku Gede, pemangku pura (a Balinese ceremonial leader).
Prior to Nyepi, rituals will be performed (Melasti and Bhuta Yajna) that end with the symbolic burning of ogoh-ogoh – giant effigies that represents the “demons” in our lives. Afterwards comes the Day of Silence, in which you must follow the sacred rules of Catur Berata Penyepian: Amati Gni (no fire/light), Amati Karya (no working), Amati Lelungaan (no traveling), and Amati Lelanguan (no revelry or self-entertainment).
For Bali first-timers, it’ll probably come as a culture shock: no motorbiking, no shopping, no partying, in short—no gallivanting about. It’ll truly be a day to chill, a precious moment for you to reflect on the past to manifest a better future. “Let your mind be at ease and unburden with extraneous thoughts,” I Mangku Gede adds. “Moreover it’ll be a good way to practice your tolerance, and learn to respect the diversity of customs of each religion.”
You may prefer to stay cooped up in your cozy hotel room with the lights on and the TV playing (albeit with a low volume), but why not try to participate instead? With all the noise happening in the world, sometimes silence is still golden.

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