Nyepi -the Sounds of Silence
Like the night before Christmas when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse, Nyepi looms in our year like a mythical beast; rising to a great crescendo and then mysteriously disappearing.
It is one of the most public displays of Balinese populist culture on the calendar. A time when young and old, rich and poor, the artists and the creatively challenged are inspired to follow giant papier mache monsters through the streets.
It’s modern myth joined with ancient pageantry in a unique attempt to exorcise evil from the island, and everyone is encouraged to be a part of it.
There are more stories about Nyepi than can ever possibly be true. The most amusing is the idea that by waking up every spirit on the island with waves of clanging and banging and scary creatures of the night, inhabitants of Bali can then retreat to the quiet of their homes, turn off all the lights and wait until the evil spirits decide there is no one here to terrorize and keep flying until they reach Lombok.
It is testament to the humour that the Balinese infuse into so many of the more serious celebrations on the calendar, there is always something to smile about if you think about it.
A few Nyepi facts.
The airport is closed for 24 hours during Nyepi.
Only emergency vehicles are allowed on the streets.
Bali resorts have special dispensation to allow guests to enjoy their resort during the day, the lights are dimmed at night.
Nyepi lasts from sunrise to sunrise, a 24 hour period of silence.
Bali is the only island that celebrates Nyepi, the rest of Indonesia carries on business as usual.