Nyepi Bali is a unique Hindu celebration in Bali, which is commemorated through a day of silence, meditation and self-reflection. Nyepi falls on the day after the dark moon of the spring equinox when the day and night are of approximately equal duration. During Nyepi, the entire island of Bali shuts down. For 24 hours all shops are closed and the streets are cleared of all people and motor vehicles (emergency vehicles are exempt) and light is strictly forbidden.
This year, even the telecommunication companies agreed with the government to disable their network. It’s indeed a special experience, not only for the Balinese but also for all the visitors and tourists that are in Bali during Nyepi Day.
Important note: do not book any flights or trips in or out of Bali on Nyepi. During the celebrations, the international airport closes for 24 hours.
Good to know: tourists have slightly adjusted rules and are allowed to use screens (TV, phone etc.), but no light should be seen from outside.
What happens on Nyepi in Bali – Rituals
This ritual happens 3–4 days beforehand and is dedicated to Sanghyang Widhi Wasa. This ritual is performed in a temple near the sea and is meant to purify Arca, Pratima, and Pralingga (sacred objects) belonging to several temples, also to acquire sacred water from the sea. In Canggu, where we witnessed all the rituals and Nyepi, you will see people walking down towards the sea for a whole week prior to Nyepi.
The Bhuta Yajna Ritual & Ogoh Ogoh Parade
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 of live animal sacrifice. Around sunset, the “Pengrupukan” ceremony begins in the house compounds. They do this with the banging of pots and pans and bamboo tubes along with the burning of dried coconut leaf torches to drive out the demons.
The night before Nyepi is possibly the most exciting and spectacular time to be on the island. Each village will hold its own Ngrupuk parade with Ogoh-Ogoh in order to draw out and banish malevolent spirits. The Ogoh-Ogoh are large statues made from bamboo and paper and they represent demons from Hindu mythology. They’re made by the young men in each village for months beforehand. They then parade down the main street of each village as night falls, often led by the young women of the village who carry flaming torches.
Nyepi Bali curfew
The Nyepi Bali curfew officially lasts from 6 am on Nyepi day until 6 am the following day. However, traffic gets very busy on Nyepi eve and many roads will be blocked for the Ogoh-Ogoh processions. It’s, therefore, best to avoid traveling too far from your accommodation (heading out on foot if possible). Aim to be back after the parades finish in the early evening. In Canggu, a lot of stores close already the day before Nyepi. The restaurants closed their doors latest at 14.00.
We wish we knew: you need to stock up on food not only for Nyepi but for the day before as well. It was a challenge to buy food with big crowds. The smartest thing to do is to buy it all at least 2 days before. Some people were standing in line for 1.5 hours trying to pay at Pepito’s a day before Nyepi. We went to Dia mart and there was no line – but very little fresh produce (no fruit, veggies).
The Nyepi Rituals are performed as follows:
1. Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity.
2. Amati Karya: No working.
3. Amati Lelunganan: No travelling.
4. Amati Lelanguan: No revelry/self-entertainment.
Plan your arrival
Ngurah Rai International Airport is perhaps the only international airport in the world that totally ceases its operations for a full 24 hours every year. Notice to Airmen is issued every year for Nyepi, from 06:00 to 06:00 the following day. Due to the closure, all flights both arriving and departing from the airport will be inoperable. It’s always a good idea to plan your flights in or out to avoid the actual Nyepi date. In other words, arrive early or arrive late.
Already in Bali? If you don’t want to experience Nyepi it is highly popular to take a trip to the Gili Islands. You could also opt for getting pampered at your hotel’s SPA if that’s more your style. However, Nyepi is a great experience and I’d recommend you stay in Bali during this unique time!