Silent day

This seed is from Taiga Gomes.


One full day without electricity or fire, no work, no fun, and no permission to leave home. For 24 hours, only emergency vehicles are allowed on the streets. When the night comes, not even one candle can be lighted, it’s total darkness.

Sounds unbearable? For the Balinese, it’s a cleaning process. I would call it an emotional detox.

The holiday it’s called Nyepi, and I was lucky to be there when it happened in March 31, 2014.

The Nyepi is the day that follows a Hindu ceremony called Pengerupukan, the last day of the Balinese year. Each village organizes a parade with giant scary figures made of paper and bamboo, called Ogoh-ogoh, and they are destroyed by the population. The Ogoh-ogoh represent all that is negative and can take the form of animals, monsters or any other being that can be imagined by the incredibly creative Balinese people.

In the beautiful Kuta beach, I took pictures of some that were able to still stand after the ceremony.


After the destruction of figures representing different forms of negativity, the Nyepi symbolizes a rebirth, a fresh start of the New Year. The Nyepi has 4 basic rules:

Amati Geni – no fire (including electricity)

Amati Karya – no work

Amati Lelungan – no going out of the house

Amati Lelanguan – no leisure activities.

Even though it is not an obligation anymore, some still fast during that day. If someone wants to cook, this has to be done until 6 AM, because the stove can not be turned on after that.

One Balinese woman explained to me that the families with babies have to ask for a special permission to have a dim light on at home. The Pecalang (security guards) are the only ones allowed to walk on the streets and are in charge of supervising the ritual. If they see any light, they will knock on the door to check the special permission.

The Bali airport is closed and there are no TV transmissions. Everybody respects the tradition, even the non-Hindu minority. The tourists have to stay inside the hotels and are not allowed to go to the beach. The hotel employees can work, but have to arrive before 6 AM and can only go back home 24 hours later.

One entire day to be in silence, relax and in their words: free the soul of everything that is negative. A time to think about the mistakes of the previous year and to be prepared to not commit them again. In the day after the Nyepi, called Ngembak Geni, all social activities are resumed and the families and friends are reunited to ask forgiveness for their mistakes. Mistakes that maybe without a day in silence and meditation, wouldn’t even been remembered or noticed. To be able to say I’m sorry with a rested mind and a heart in peace. Is there any better detox?

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