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Not a Silent Night

Minor Neighborhood Skirmishes Mar the Lead Up to Nyepi Day.

(4/15/2002) On Friday Night, April 12th marked the traditional eve before Bali's mandatory day of silence- a day that saw the entire island shut down becoming a virtual ghost town for 24 hours. The night before the big day or Nyepi Eve, is a day when Balinese villages take to the streets in mardi gras fashion parading large paper mache daemons carried on the shoulders of the male members of the local banjar. Often fueled on by generous quantities of arak rice wine, the young men dance in the street exorcising daemons, some seemingly personal.

As in year's past, several local banjars got carried away in this year's celebrations and now face the unhappy prospect of dealing with local law enforcement officials and repairing the damage they inflicted on fellow Balinese and local shopkeepers.

According to a report in the Jakarta Post's April 14th edition, some 10 shops and 12 motor vehicles were damaged in two separate incident during Friday's Ogoh Ogoh parade. In addition, four people suffered injuries during the melee's.

The outbreaks of vandalism occurred in the Bualu district near Bali's Nusa Dua Complex resulting in damages to a number of stores at the intersection just outside the formal entrance to the complex housing 4,500 hotel rooms, while the second incident, in the Abian Semal district of Denpasar, resulted in both property damage and four personal injury reports.

The situation remained tense on Sunday as a group estimated at 500 returned to the scene of the Bualu incident to demanded Police arrest the men from a neighboring village seen to have instigated the vandalism. Responding to the crowd, the Police quickly took three local men into custody for questioning in connection with the brawl.