Nyepi – Bali’s Day of Silence
For one full day of every year, the whole island falls into an eerie silence. Bali’s international airport closes its doors, together with every other business. Streets and beaches are deserted. Residents must stay at home, tourists within the compounds of their hotel. Religious laws strictly prohibit working, entertainment, travel, and lighting fires, and Pecalang (local security guards) patrol every neighbourhood to enforce these restrictions.
Nyepi is Bali’s ‘Silent Day,’ marking the New Year in the Hindu lunar calendar. It’s the island’s most sacred holiday, signifying a fresh start in a ‘clean’ world – thanks to a number of cleansing rituals leading up to the special day. Characterised by stillness and self reflection, it’s a time that the Balinese dedicate to connecting with God through prayer, fasting and meditation. Self control is key and some refrain from eating or talking at all.
In stark contrast, Nyepi’s Eve is host to one of the most raucous spectacles of the year. After dark, crowds gather in streets across every village in Bali, awaiting the Ngerupuk parade, a towering procession of grotesque-looking statues ogoh-ogoh. Hand-crafted by each banjar (village group) from wood, bamboo and paper, each freakish effigy is said to symbolise the dark forces buta kala.
Perched atop bamboo platforms, beast-like ogoh ogoh are carried upon the shoulders of proud village men, who jerk and shake the magnificent statues to-and-fro, as if dancing. An exorcism ceremony of sorts, the Ngerupuk parade always takes place at a main crossroad, the traditional meeting place of demons. Mass shouting, frenzied dancing and hypnotic gamelan are all employed with the specific purpose of warding off evil spirits.
In the early days of the ogoh-ogoh tradition, the statues were burnt after the procession to symbolise purification, but today, many are kept by the banjar as intricate craft pieces.
This year, the ogoh-ogoh parades are planned for the night of Friday 16 March, with Nyepi following on Saturday 17 March (Nyepi restrictions will apply from 6am on Saturday 17th until 6am on Sunday 18th). If you’d like to experience these special cultural festivals, unique to Bali, we’ve put together a few extras.
Nyepi – Feel the mystical energy of Bali’s most sacred day in the laid-back surroundings of Katamama. View the empty beach and streets from the private balcony or rooftop of your suite, or enjoy our tropical pool, 24-hour gym and Indonesian-inspired spa – all open as usual. Downstairs in our intimate lobby bar, Akademi will be open for cocktails as normal, as well as guided cocktail master classes, focussing on the indigenous herbs, fruits and spices of Bali. Ingredient-driven Spanish cuisine, including tapas, raciones and made-to-order paellas, will be served up from MoVida restaurant all day long, alongside a room service menu of international and Indonesian plates.
To experience Nyepi at Katamama, reserve a suite from Friday 16 March until Sunday 18 March. We’ll treat you to…
- One complimentary lunch for two at MoVida on 17 March (for direct bookings only)
- A sunset cocktail
- Star-gazing at Katamama rooftop from 8pm until midnight
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