Bali’s magical and highly spiritual day of absolute silence – Hari Raya Nyepi falls on Friday, March 23, 2012 marking the first day of the Bali Hindu New Year of Caka 1934.
Unique in all the world, Nyepi Day is preceded by a night of revelry in which elaborately adorned papier-mâché floats are carried through Bali’s street - with images depicting all manner of daemons and well-known celebraties, carried on the shoulders of village youth who have spent the weeks leading up to the festival creating the colorful displays. As dawn approaches, the celebrants, now rid of their wild impetuosity, slip away to their respective homes for a 24-hour period of mandatory solitude and reflection from which to launch the year ahead.
Nyepi mandates a day of absolute quietude, based on the four precepts of Catur Brata:
- Amati Geni: Prohibiting the lighting of fires, the use of lighting or the satisfaction of pleasurable human appetites.
- Amati Karya: Prohibiting all forms of physical work other than those dedicated to spiritual cleansing and renewal.
- Amati Lelungan: Prohibiting movement or travel; requiring people to stay within their residences.
- Amati Lelangunan: Prohibiting all forms of entertainment, recreations or general merrymaking.
In keeping with the strict traditions of the holy day, Bali grinds to an absolute halt for 24-hours form 6:00 a.m. on Friday, March 23 until Saturday, March 24, 2012.
The observance of the day is all pervasive and includes:
- The requirement that Bali visitors stay confined within the grounds of hotels for the 24-hour period and not leave the premises, except in cases of medical emergency.
- Hotels are asked to limit outside lighting out of respect to the surrounding Balinese communities.
- Employees of hotels and emergency services must stay confined to their place of employment for the entire 24-hour period.
- All streets are empty and closed. All businesses are closed. Only emergency vehicles are permitted on the roads.
- All seaports are closed during the 24-hour period.
- Bali’s airport is closed during the 24-hour period. No passengers are allowed to land or take off from the airport. Technical stops are allowed but no passenger may disembark or embark on a flight during this period.
- Television and radio stations are closed and cable broadcast companies are asked to suspend their signals to Bali during the proscribed period.
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