Nyepi—The Silent Balinese New Year
Nyepi* is the Balinese-Hindu new year celebration rooted in the belief that the island must be ridded of and protected from evil spirits at the beginning of each year. Spirits are scared away on the days leading up to Nyepi through prayer ceremonies and the procession of scary effigies called ogoh-ogoh. The island then remains silent on the actual day of Nyepi so that returning spirits will think the island is deserted and pass over.
Like most things on Bali, Nyepi was attractive. It was full of beautiful fabrics, burning incense, gamelan, great craftsmanship, and excitement. Unlike most things on Bali, however, Nyepi was not meant for tourists. Certain practices, such as the closing of Denpasar’s international airport and the police-enforced tradition of keeping locals and tourists inside their dwellings are anathema to the modern catering culture of Bali.
*sepi=quiet, still; menyepi=to become still, to become desolate (Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Bali)
(all photos courtesy of Nicole E.)
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