Written by Claudine Daigneault
What is Nyepi, the Balinese new year?
This unique celebration has that kind of feel: You have to be there to understand it. In English, it refers to the Balinese new year and Silent Day. According to the Balinese calendar, on March 14th, 2021, we will be in 1943.
Let us walk you through some questions we all had when we moved to Bali.
What is the celebration of Nyepi?
Nyepi is the celebration of a new year but holds a deeper meaning.
The celebration starts almost a month before the New Year. The young generation gathers in every district of the village to make Ogoh-Ogoh. They will spend a few weeks making these light statues that can be 3-4-5 meters in height. These monsters are portraying human’s vice and demons that inhabit our surroundings.
The day before Nyepi, the Balinese will march in the streets carrying these Ogoh-Ogohs. They will hunt the streets, even “fight” between them. All the village and tourists stand along the main street to watch the parade. In Pemuteran, the Ogoh-Ogoh will head to the cemetery. Members of the pacalang, our religious police, will then set on fire the Ogoh-Ogoh. Weeks, hours, sweat will then disappear under the flames. We will be saying goodbye to all the demons we may have had. We will return to our house in silence where we will hide, meditate and press the reset button for the new year.
What happens on Nyepi Day?
Nyepi day is supposed to be a silent day where people fast and meditate.
The main goal of this day is to assure our demons to not find us back practicing our old habits. They will hunt the village in search of you, human.
- They will go to your work.
- They will go to your house.
- They will go to your hang-out place.
You will not appear, they will not find you. You will be in silence, at your house, with no electricity on and not giving away to any vice you may have.
Let’s be frank, some of us have some vice for food – they won’t find you cooking that day. Some of us have an addiction to online gaming – they won’t find you playing.
The idea is to press the reset button, let go of our addiction and bad habits we may have.
When is Nyepi Day?
Nyepi follows the Balinese calendar. As it mixes two different calendars, it is complex to understand. We will let Mister Wikipedia answer this question for you. All we know, as a humble citizen, is that Nyepi 2021 is on March 14th, 2021. Balinese will be celebrating the year 1943.
Extra information: The Balinese Calendar contains “Dewasa Ayu” which underlines the good days to do something. Did we lose you? The calendar will tell you if it is a good day to plant rice, get married, cremate, or start building a house.
Are Balinese following the rules of Nyepi’s celebration?
In general, they do, and they stay at their house. Are they fasting? Are they meditating? It is all a private matter between them and their household. We are pretty sure nobody is cooking on Nyepi day. To prepare food is something easy and they all excel for big ceremonies. Would they fast or simply cook a day before for Nyepi day is a whole new question.
In the ceremonies prior/following Nyepi, the Balineses will go to the ocean to get purified.
Nyepi and its impact on tourism?
On Nyepi day, everything closes: Yes, we aren’t joking
- No domestic nor international flight can land in Bali.
- No ferries can make their entrance into the harbors of Bali
- Nobody can travel outside of their house – no cars, no motorbike allowed on the road
- No stores and restaurants are open
- No internet/phone services for everyone being on the island
Do you start getting the feeling? A REAL Silent day.
Tourists better find a nice all-inclusive hotel or stay in a comfortable homestay. Arm yourself with books or downloaded movies. You may also go with the flow and act as a Balinese Hindu and meditate all day. Why not sign up for your PADI Open Water Course while in Bali and use this day to study?
The silence should start at 6 am the day of Nyepi to 6 am the day after Nyepi.
To experience this unique celebration and still go diving, we invite you to check out our Dive and Explore Safari.