A Balinese woman prays in a beach during the Melasti Ceremony, ahead of the Nyepi Day of Silence. (Photo: Getty Images/Agung Parameswara)
Public activities are limited, but it doesn't mean you should cancel your trip.Retno Wulandari 24 March 2017 14:00
Hindus in Indonesia will celebrate the Hindu New Year by holding Nyepi, or the 'Day of Silence', on Tuesday, March 28. The majority of the Balinese have to stay indoors for a day of reflection, abandoning all of the daily routines including work and play, in solemnity. During that day, we’re prohibited from doing any activities, even if it’s only a walk to the nearest minimarket.
But what if your Bali vacation coincides with Nyepi? Well, there’s a set of rules you must not break. Here are some tips.
1) Choose your departure and return dates at least one day before and after Nyepi.
And be sure you depart in the morning and return in the evening. One day before Nyepi, the airport and most of public transportation usually only operate half day and will be shut down at 3 or 4 pm. On Nyepi day, there will be no flights nor other transportation options operating, so you’ll have to wait until the next day to leave Bali.
2) Understand the “Catur Brata Penyepian” rules.
It is a set of rules that must be obeyed by Hindus during Nyepi. They are Amati Karya (not allowed to work), Amati Lelungan (not allowed to travel or walking around), Amati Geni (not allowed to set the fire/turn the lights on) and Amati Lelanguan (not allowed to have fun). Non-Hindus, including tourists, are expected to respect these rules.
3) Understand that Nyepi lasts for 24 hours.
Nyepi Day lasts for 24 hours, starting immediately after the first lights on the horizon appears, about 6 am. Then, the Catur Brata Penyepian rules apply until the sun rises on the next day at 6 am. Make sure you’re not breaking the rules, because there are Balinese traditional guards, locally known as pecalang, safeguarding every single corner in Bali. Pecalang are highly respected among Balinese communities.
4) Stay in your hotel during Nyepi.
You’ll have to stay in the hotel all day during Nyepi, because it’s prohibited to stray around. So forget the plan to enjoy the beach or to have a fancy beachside lunch, because you just can’t go anywhere. However, tourists are still allowed to turn the lights on and do activities inside hotel area, such as swimming, eating, and all.
Those who break the rules, by going to the beach for instance, will be caught by pecalang.
5) Don’t be noisy.
As a tourist, you’re still allowed to have some fun in the hotel area, such as watching TV and listening to some music, but make sure that those are for your eyes and ears only. Keep the volume low.
6) Lights are only allowed inside the room.
You can turn the lights on in your hotel room, but make sure the curtains are shut. If your hotel room has a balcony, don’t turn the balcony lights on.
7) What if you fall sick during Nyepi?
If you feel unwell and need a doctor, report immediately to the hotel clerk and he/she will call the nearest hospital. The hospital’s ambulance will pick you up. Ambulance is the only vehicle allowed on the road during Nyepi.
8) Stockpile your supplies!
Buy your supplies at least one day before Nyepi, because you can’t get anything during the holiday. Be sure you have a sufficient stock of food, snacks, water and beverages, as well as your breakfast, lunch and dinner for the Nyepi day. If you're lucky, you can buy frozen food so you can microwave it when needed. But if not, you can ask your hotel clerk if they provide a Nyepi meal package.
Don’t forget to get some medicine for minor illness such as headache, cold, stomachache, gastric issues, mosquito repellent and ointments for sore joints.
9) What if there’s a baby with you?
The same rule applies: prepare everything at least one day before Nyepi. Be sure you have enough milk, diapers, baby foods and snacks for your little one. You can buy frozen baby food, which can be purchased at various places in Bali. Consider to order the baby foods online before departure, so they can deliver it to the airport upon arrival, or to your hotel. Bring the baby’s favorite toys and storybooks to keep him/her busy during the Day of Silence.
See, you don't have to cancel your trip? You can still enjoy Bali or even better, you can use the Day of Silence as an opportunity to relax, meditate and contemplate about your life.