To an introvert who craves quiet time in what can sometimes be a chaotic culture a day of complete silence sounds like heaven. In fact I have built my upcoming trip around wanting to experience the holiday of Nyepi because I recognize how unhealthy I have been operating these days.
Balinese rituals of Melasti
I come a specific generation that strategically straddled two worlds. The world I was born into was slower and simpler. Growing up I didn’t have a cell phone or a laptop with constant buzzing, notifications and beeping. If I wanted to talk to my friends I either had to call them and hope they were home or walk to their house and take a chance knocking on their front door. I was in university before cell phones and emails were commonplace. It seems to have just ramped up from there with instant messaging, social media and texting. Smart phones and widely available wifi are the icing on the cake and there are very few places these days where you can go and completely disconnect.
I know, I for one, am addicted to the technology. I crave the constant stream of information. When I was a kid if I was bored it was usually because I was being lazy. Now when I’m bored it isn’t because I don’t have a million things to keep me entertained at my fingertips it’s because I’ve gotten so used to being so stimulated all the time that without it the world seems slow. It sometimes takes me days to unplug and unwind and it usually doesn’t last for long before I’m right back into it.
Ogoh Ogoh – photo credit Kajeng5
Now Nyepi isn’t just an annual day where everyone keeps quiet. It in fact marks the first day of the New Year in the Saka Calendar and is part of a series of multiple days of rituals and festivals across the island of Bali Indonesia. Beginning with the ritual of Melasti andtravelling to the sea to purify yourself with water, to festival Bhuta Yajna with large theatrical “Ogoh Ogoh” monsters that are paraded through the streets then after the sun falls are burned in effigy to release and ward off the evil spirits of the previous year. Finally commencing in Nyepi where from 6am to the following 6am is a day of silence, rest, fasting, meditation and reflection. The entire island is silent while guards patrol the streets ensuring that no one is disrespectful the importance that this day holds. There is no light, no power, no noise, no food and no conversation. The entire island of over 4 million people silent and dark for 24 hours.