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Mum's the Word: Nyepi Day - April 13

Island of Bali Marks Annual Day of Absolute Silence Saturday, April 13.

(3/31/2002) Hari Raya Nyepi marking the start of the Bali-Hindu New Year falls on Saturday, April 13, 2002. This is a day of absolute silence observed throughout the island when no outside activity of any kind is allowed - no traffic is allowed on the streets, and no lights or fires should be lit - a day when all of Bali resembles a ghost town. Even the airport and ferry services that connect Bali to the rest of the world are closed for a day.

From 6 a.m. on the 13th of April until sunrise the following morning, Bali literally shuts down.

This is a day of introspection for Hindu followers who spend the entire day behind closed doors. Non-Hindu's present on the island on that day are required to show respect with guests confined to hotel grounds where they are generally allowed to enjoy the hotel's facilities and services, but are instructed to keep their curtains drawn, preventing light escaping to the view of those outside the hotel. Essential staff at hotels, hospitals, telephone and similar essential services are temporary housed at their place of employment from the evening of April 12th until sunrise on April 14th as the roads are closed preventing people traveling to and from their place of employment.

Baliís Ngurah Rai Airport will be closed with all flights cancelled.

While many Bali hotels are offering Nyepi Packages to local residents seeking refuge in the hotels from their homes where light bulbs, TV's and fires of any kind should not be visible, the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) has asked its member hotels to consider the sensibilities of surrounding traditional villages in promoting such packages and in organizing guests activities on April 13. Hotels are asked to avoid activities which disrupt or opening ignore the code of absolute silence of catur brata penyepian rigorously observed in adjoining villages.

Visitors to the island over this day are often impressed at being part of a cultural tradition that is unique to Bali. The night prior to Nyepi on April 12th is equally unique, offering a night of Mardi Gras-like festivities with every village holding lively parades and processions. For weeks prior to this date, the village Banjar or hall is awash with activities as giant paper mache monsters - ogoh ogoh are constructed. Paraded down the streets of orchestras, drums and cymbals - the ogoh-ogoh play their part in rituals to exorcise any lingering evil or ill will that might linger in the community and impugn the purity and serenity of the following day of silence that mark the beginning of a New Year in Bali.