Bali has a tradition of welcoming the New Year by being silent for a day. That traditional name is Nyepi and it has been since thousands of years ago. What’s unique about this tradition is they celebrate it only in Bali, Indonesia. This celebration is not only for Balinese but also the tourists.
There are some festivals, ceremonies, specialty foods, and prohibitions that everyone must obey during this day. Take a look at the list of activities during Silent Day in Bali below.
Facts about Nyepi or Silent Day in Bali
Nyepi means silence and quiet. This celebration started in 78 AD in Hinduism as their tradition of Nyepi & the Balinese Calendar change. It is different from an ordinary new year because people will start their day by being silent for a day. They will stop normal activities as well.
The history of this day started from Veda, where the area of Hinduism or India always experienced the crisis in the past. The social conflict was inevitable and people suffer a lot of things. Their life was hard until the Saka tribe won the battle. After that, this Silent Day celebration started.
Silent Day became their agenda ever since and it united the whole tribes that used to fight each other. Under King Kanishka I, Hinduism was more peaceful. So the new year is a kind of prayer to God to clear the universe from misfortune.
2. Bali in silence for 24 hours
It is not only for Balinese who celebrate silent day. All people in Bali should be in silent mode for 24 hours. The uniqueness of this day is that people should turn off their lamps and electricity. They also must not talk, go to work, go to school, and do every activity that can make a sound.
During the silent day, the Balinese will pretend that there is no life in Bali. The electricity only applies in emergencies such as hospital and fire rescue. The purpose of celebrating this day is to trick the bad spirits which bring disaster and bad luck to the Bali area. After 24 hours, it comes back to normal.
3. A day without network
When you are staying in Bali during Nyepi, you have to prepare yourself that for 24 hours there will not be the internet. The government will turn off the connection until the day ends. Not only the internet but cellular networks will also be cut too to prevent users from calling by phone or sending messages.
Besides the internet, the government will also turn off the radio and television. You won’t be able to get any signal to watch or listen to the radio. That electronic stuff makes a sound, so it is not allowed to be ON during silence. The exception is only for climate agencies, hospitals, police stations, and fire rescue offices.
4. Celebrating Saka New Year
Saka new year means changing the Saka calendar to the new one. Even though Hinduism comes from India, Silent Day is only celebrated in Indonesia, especially in Bali. Other Hindus who stay outside Bali will only celebrate the new year without activities related to Silent Day like in Bali.
For Balinese, Saka New Year is the right moment to be more careful to live life. Without making sound is also the moment to have some self-reflection. For universal reasons, Nyepi is the moment to celebrate being united and to be born again into a better version of yourself.
When is Nyepi day in Bali? It depends on the Saka calendar. The exact date is unknown, but it always falls in March. The date keeps changing from year to year, so you have to prepare in case your visit to Bali includes this moment. You have to be off from activities.
5. The airport is closed
The international airport in Bali is closed during the Day of Silence. There will not be any flights for 24 hours, so you can’t make any travel trips outside the area. Plane your schedule well before coming to Bali to avoid this day. Departure and arrival are not allowed for this special day.
6. Prohibition terms during Silent Day
There are three kinds of prohibitions that Hindu worshippers must do during the Silent Day. The terms are Amati Geni, Amati Lelanguan, and Amati Karya. Here is the definition for each prohibition:
• Amati Geni
Amati Geni is a prohibition when Hindu worshippers are not allowed to have electricity, fire, and light. They are the symbol of anger. So, in the evening of the day until 6 AM the next day, the condition of Bali is dark.
• Amati Lelanguan
This is the prohibition when the people must not go anywhere during the day. Any activities that relate to happiness and excitement with exaggeration are not allowed to do. It is not applied to the locals, but also the whole people who are staying in Bali.
• Amati Karya
The last prohibition is when they must not go to school or work. Silent Day will not allow everyone to do such activities. Indonesian government makes it a holiday for Indonesians.
7. Rituals during Nyepi
There are some rituals that Balinese should do during the day. They start this Silent Day at 6 AM and end at 6 Am on the next day. There are some rituals and ceremonies before and after Nyepi. Here is Nyepi rituals and the significance:
Melasti has some other names such as Mekiyis o Melis. This ceremony is on two or three days before the Silent Day. The Balinese will bring the facilities of prayer in the temple to the lake or beach, and then clean them all.
For Hinduism, water is the best source to clean the dirt for humans and nature. After cleaning them all, the people will pray at the side of the lake or shore. The ceremony is quite big in some areas such as Candidasa beach, Klotok beach, and Sanur beach.
• Buta Yadnya
A day before Silent Day, there is a ceremony named Buta Yadnya. This is the ceremony where people will beg Sang Buta Raja, Buta Kala, and Batara Kala to not disturb society. They believe that those three usually come to spread misfortune, death, and diseases.
The people who join this ceremony will take one caru, the thing from the offerings. The offerings consist of rice, chicken, local alcoholic beverages, and other food. The total offerings should be nine kinds. Caru or offerings are symbols of sacred manifestation.
Ngerupuk is another name of Ogoh-Ogoh parade. The people will spread your rice and light on the houses with fire, and then hit traditional stuff such as kentongan to create the noise. This is a symbol of telling Buta Kala to go from their house, garden, and environment.
Ogoh-Ogoh is the symbol of Buta Kala. The people will bring the statue around the village, and after that, they burn it on fire. The purpose is to dismiss Buta Kala from the village. Before the festival starts, people create this ogoh-ogoh from bamboo and paper in a giant size.
This is the main ceremony where people will not have any activities for a day. Since there is no electricity and network, the people don’t go anywhere, and some places are closed, and the people are fasting and practicing or suffering as the way how to spend Nyepi Day in Bali.
• Ngembak Geni
Ngembak Geni is the ritual where people visit each other after Silent Day ends. They will do it in the afternoon on the next day. It’s a form of gratitude toward each other and the symbol of forgiveness. Not only relatives, usually people visit their neighborhood as well.
This ceremony is when people will bathe in mud. There are many people who do this in a pool of mud. This ritual is a form of cleaning themselves to welcome a new year. After that, people who bathe mood will walk to the beach in the West to rinse themselves.
8. Food to Eat
During Silent Day, there will be a specialty that people will eat. However, the food might not be available if it’s not Silent Day. Here is the food you’ll see during this day:
Nasi tepeng is a specialty from Gianyar, Bali. This meal consists of beans, nuts, eggplants, and coconut sprinkled in it. You can find this meal during Silent Day or in some other areas in Gianyar during normal days.
This is the specialty during Nyepi that becomes the favorite dish for Balinese. Layar is a mix of vegetables and ground meat. They use Balinese seasoning with strong spices.
Entil is a rice cake that people will eat entil during the day. It is the main meal for Saka New Year.
This is a special cake from Bali. It has the shape of a cone. Cerorot can be found everywhere, not only on Silent Day. People usually serve cerorot for offerings.
This dish is very popular as the chicken dish from Bali. Ayam betutu has a strong flavor and it is for offerings during Silent Day.Those are the facts about Nyepi or Silent Day in Bali. This tradition is happening every year as a form of New Year celebration in the Saka calendar. Not only Balinese, but the tourists in Bali must also join this day too and obey the rules of the locals.