Nyepi is the day of silence, fasting and meditation. It is celebrated as the Balinese New Year and this Year Nyepi falls on March 31st. It will be observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. on April 1st and for the Balinese this is a very special day reserved for self-reflection. So anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no one may light fires or turn on any electric lights; no one may work; there shall be no entertainment; traveling is not allowed and everyone must stay at home.
Nyepi is celebrated on the day after the New Moon that falls closest to the equinox, either before or after. Allow us to clarify. New Moon is when the moon is all dark and not even a sliver can be seen. The word “equinox” means that night and day are of equal length. The equinox occurs twice a year (around 20 March and 22 September), when the sun crosses the equator. In astrology, the day of the equinox is the first full day of the sign of Aries. It is also the traditional first day of the astrological year.
On the night of that special new Moon the Balinese perform the Bhuta Yajna ritual, of which the purpose is to make all negative spirits disappear and create a balance between God, mankind and nature. In order to achieve this they parade ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of bamboo and Papier-mâché symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits around the village. In the end the ceremony culminates in the Ngrupuk ritual, which involves burning the ogoh-ogoh.
During Nyepi even the airport is closed and with the possible exception for emergency air ambulances there are neither any flights arriving nor departing. Tourists and other visitors have to remain on the premises of their hotel where lighting is kept low in the evening.
We know from experience that our guests are always ready to embrace the wonderful peace and quiet that descends over the island during Nyepi and usually they do enjoy the day very much. After dark, in the absence of any urban light pollution one has the chance to admire the night sky in all its beauty.