wanderlust wednesday; nyepi in bali

Nyepi is the Balinese "Day of Silence," celebrated every new year, or Isaawarsa. It is a traditionally Hindu celebration, but is only celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. We were lucky enough to have been in Bali over Nyepi. We didn't know a thing about it and were pretty surprised when we were told that it is a complete day of silence, and no one is exempt. Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires, no electricity, no working, no entertainment or pleasure, no traveling (the airport is closed), and for some, no talking or eating at all. 

The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed. We tried to sneek out to see these men. It was pitch black and silent and we crept along an alley way hoping to catch a glimpse, but their flashlight found us first and we were chased back to out guest house. If you are caught not observing Nyepi, you are usually forced to clean the temples the next day. 
On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.
According to Wikepedia, here is a breakdown of the festivities the week before Nyepi. The photos are all mine taken during the Melasti Ritual.
  • First, The Melasti Ritual is performed 3-4 days beforehand. It is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa. The ritual is performed in Pura (Balinese temple) near the sea (Pura Segara) and meant to purify Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga (sacred objects) belonging to several temples, also to acquire sacred water from the sea.

  • Second, The Bhuta Yajna Ritual is performed in order to vanquish the negative elements and create a balance with God, Mankind, and Nature. The ritual is also meant to appease Batara Kala by Pecaruan offering. Devout Hindu Balinese villages usually make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of bamboo and paper symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, the Ngrupuk ritual takes place, which involves burning the ogoh-ogoh.

The ogoh-ogoh are gruesome things to see! There come in every variety of monster- though we saw an awful lot of saggy boobs on some these creatures, maybe the Balinese are afraid of saggy bits.

  • Third, the Nyepi Rituals are performed as follows:
    • Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity
    • Amati Karya: No working
    • Amati Lelunganan: No travelling
    • Amati Lelanguan: Fasting and no revelry/self-entertainment
  • Fourth, the Yoga/Brata Ritual starts at 6:00 a.m. and continues to 6:00 p.m. the next day.
  • Fifth, the Ngembak Agni/Labuh Brata Ritual is performed for all Hindus to forgive each other and to welcome the new days to come.
  • Sixth and finally, The Dharma Shanti Rituals is performed after all the Nyepi rituals finished. [3]

Have you ever seen Nyepi or anything like it?


  1. Wow, a whole day of silence... that must be really good for the soul.

  2. This is so interesting - thank you for sharing. A day of reflection sounds so amazing and something I think our over-stimulated culture could learn from.

  3. wow! i never knew! how bizarre it would be to see the whole city shut down! and having to clean temples if you break the rules! intense!

  4. Wow what an AMAZING experience!!! I would love to participate in something like this. These pics are GORGEOUS!!!!

  5. Went to Bali last year with my hubs and we both just loved it. There´s something magical about the Island of the Gods, I can only imagine experiencing Bali during this meaningful silence celebration must be surreal! Lucky you!

    1. We were pretty lucky to have witnessed it! Did you ever eat gado gado while you were in Bali!? It was my favorite! Thanks for stopping by Heidi

  6. What a unique event to be a part of! I think I would find it difficult to go a full day without speaking - I'd probably be whispering.

    1. We definitely didn't stay silent all day :) but it was tricky when we couldn't leave our hotel room or turn on the lights!


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