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Why the world needs Nyepi

Having lived in Bali for over a decade, I always looked forward to the island’s annual day of silence on Nyepi. ‘Isakawarsa’ or New Year in Bali falls on March 7th and, according to the Balinese calendar, it will be the year 1941. Nyepi is honoured as a day of contemplation, meditation and reflection. The airport is closed for business, the streets are empty of traffic and locals and expats alike stay home to enjoy the peace. Even the holiday makers are restricted to within their hotel boundaries.

The rituals which surround Nyepi begin with the Melasti celebration, usually 3-4 days prior to Nyepi. A purifying water ritual, it aims to create balance between God, mankind and nature. Holy water is collected from the sea and sacred objects are purified.

Later, with an aim to expel negative energy, pots and pans are banged at house temples to drive away demons. Huge effigies of demonic spirits called ‘Ogoh- Ogoh’ are created over months and paraded through village streets by locals on the eve of Nyepi.

Once the celebrations are over, Bali locals and visitors alike retreat home. I always found Nyepi magical; a peaceful silence awaited upon waking, one where birdsong and the odd dog bark cut the otherwise calm air. Meditations were always profound and I enjoyed many a year in the pool with my little one until the sun began to set and a beautiful blanket of stars lit up the sky. Lying on the garden grass, staring at an uninterrupted galaxy of stars, I wished for Nyepi all over the world. Just for a day.

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