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Nyepi the silent celebration


This March the Art-hideaways spring holiday coincides with the Balinese celebration of Nyepi, which is very exciting but a bit of  mystery to most people – so I thought I would write a little bit about Nyepi for those of you thinking about joining us.

Nyepi is a celebration of silence, of restraint and contemplation. Once a year the people of Bali in Indonesia stop everything, and think. The celebration of Nyepi is rather like our New years day it falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox, and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu era which began in 78 A.D.

This is a serious time for Bali, the airport is closed, street lights turned off and the only people on the streets are the Banjar Police who are strong young men elected by their community to police the area. The Banjar Police have the authority to inflict punishment if they catch you outside, or if they see a light after dark, you might be told to sweep the street or pay a fine. Most westerners respect Nypie by putting up blackout curtains, turning down TV’s and using dimmed lights or by checking into a hotel where the curtaining and such is done for you.

If silence and contemplation and being good are not your thing you will probably be very happy to hear that Nyepi is not all about silence.


The Balinese believe that good and bad happen together and must be in balance or else problems arise, so on the eve of Nyepi they take to the streets, carrying massive papier-mâché & bamboo monsters Ogoh-Ogoh. The monsters represent evils some have fangs, dreadful pendular breasts and bulging eyes, they carry wads of cash, big cigars, and mini-skirted maidens. Ogoh-Ogoh are very ugly which is exactly what they are supposed to be, they are there to remind us just how nasty our evils are. Starting at the village cross road because that is a place where bad spirits are known to lurk teams of men charge around a torch lit route. The men are challenged to keep going until they reach the end of the route which is tough. The Ogoh-Ogoh are huge, often attached to giant platforms that take twenty or more  men to lift, often the monster is a strange shape, tottering on high heels or staggering as if drunk off to one side.

Come midnight everything must be over, traditionally the Ogoh-Ogoh are taken to the sea and burnt which apparently confuses the evil spirits so much that they leave the Island for another year. Now starts Nyepi proper and absolute silence the bad spirits are fooled to stay away since there is nothing to entertain them and the people of Bali settle to family quiet and personal meditation.

Nyepi falls on March 31st this year, the spring Art-hideaways holiday starts on Friday 28th March – Sunday 6th April

For further information and to book visit www.Art-hideaways.com or email me Sandy Infield;    sandyinfield@gmail.com

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