Before I went to Bali for the first time back in March this year I had no idea that they celebrate New Year on a different date than we do. Of course, I have heard something about the Chinese NY which starts on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. So basically anytime from the end of January till mid February. The holiday in Bali is called Nyepi and lasts few days. I read a lot about it before our departure and first it didn´t sound like a great idea to travel there during this time but flights and hotel were already booked so we just had to face it. Long story short – at the end it was an awesome experience which will remain forever in the traveller´s heart.
what is nyepi
Nyepi is Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every NY according to the Balinese calendar. It´s a Hindu celebration celebrated mainly in Bali and this year the day fell on the 21st March. The Balinese New Year is celebrated for 6 days.
The first is called The Melasti which is performed just few days before Nyepi. The aim of this is to symbolically clean and purify the universe. It is performed in the temples near the sea. That time we were at Seminyak beach when the locals started to build their own “temples” made from wood and flowers. In the evening they carried these constructions towards the sea where they put everything in the water.
Note to travellers: All the shops were still open, just the beach bars were closing at 5PM. At this point I suggest you withdraw money for the next few days as the ATMs will be closed.
The following day at 6PM starts the Ogoh-Ogoh parade. Villagers start to make ogoh-ogohs two months prior to the parade. You probably wonder what the hell is that. These are giant, demonic statues made out of paper and bamboo which symbolize the negative elements. I have to say, they looked pretty scary! To make it even more terrifying they play the traditional bamboo bell, claxons and drummer music. The aim of this is to scare the evil spirits by making unbearable amount of noise.
Day of silence – that means that the whole island stays still in order to delude the bad demons and make them think that nobody lives there. Everything from shops, restaurants, banks and even the airport is closed. Nobody is allowed to go out on the street or even drive a car or a bike. The curtains in the houses and hotels have to be closed after the sunset. The idea is if there was an airplane flying above the island it should look like it doesn´t exist. The Balinese are not allowed to work, indulge an entertainment and they are supposed to fast. So make sure you have enough food and drink at your place. Our hotel arranged extra breakfast, lunch and dinner but with a super high surcharge.
The next day after 6AM, everything goes back to normal. We even had an arranged day tour which was a bit stresfull at the beginning as of course we forgot to withdraw money before the celebrations and had nothing in our wallets. The ATMs were still not working, luckily the driver was patient and after few attempts we got our money.
Don´t hesitate and be there on 9th March 2016!