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Courtesy of beritasatu.com

This year Nyepi will be observed on the 25th March, which falls on the first new moon of the month. It is the Day of Silence when, for twenty-four hours, the entire island will embrace the natural elements with silence from 6 a.m. Wednesday March 25th to 6 a.m. Thursday March 26th. Everyone, including tourists on the isle will be cloistered either in their homes or hotels and will forgo all worldly connections; electricity, no vehicular traffic, surfing, telecommunications (television/phone/internet) and cooking of food (though previously cooked food can be served). The airport shuts down. Except for medical emergencies, nothing moves and no light brightens up the night sky. It is as if humanity is hiding from an unknown malevolent force.

The Day of Silence is a day of reflection, prayer and atonement devoid of the static of everyday modern life. For tourists it is best spent in the luxury of a resort that offers all the comforts without any of the above-mentioned public services. It is a great day to unwind from the hustle and bustle of pulsating modernity with its trappings of invasive noise that disturbs the senses; a time for one to ponder the beauty of life; and for the other inhabitants of the isle – birds, insects, dogs, cats etc., to have a free run of the deserted beaches and roads. Their calls, even the buzzing of bees, are carried by the wind. It is as if they are rejoicing the absence of humanity!

While the people remain in their homes the question of security arises. And it is here that the Pecalang, which is the local community-based security that reports to the village heads, takes over to ensure the strict adherence to the ritual of Nyepi. They also secure the streets against undesirables by working in close coordination with the police force. Hundreds of years ago the Pecalang reported to the royal families on the daily goings-on in their respective kingdoms. Today one can see them controlling traffic and assisting the administration during religious events, among other things. They wear a distinct black attire, chequered black and white sarongs, and are everywhere on the isle working as guardians of Balinese society.

The day after Nyepi (Ngembak Geni) begins with great rejoicing when families gather together to seek forgiveness from one another, to eat freshly cooked food, to read and recite from ancient scripts. It is the Balinese Lunar New Year, Saka New Year of 1942 (Gregorian Calendar 2020).