The Balinese Day of Silence

25 Feb 2022 • 7 min read

Image of The Balinese Day of Silence

What is Nyepi? If you’ve never been to Bali before in March, then it’s likely that you’ve never heard of this holiday. It is the most important Balinese Hindu celebration, which marks the turn of the New Year in the Caka Calendar (one of the the calendars that Balinese abide by). Nyepi is a silent day that that occurs for 24 hours during March, each year, following the new moon. It is a day of compulsory quietness (A.K.A. an introverts dream!) that is reserved for self-contemplation. Anything that may interfere with that purpose is restricted. This year (2022) Nyepi falls on March 3rd.


Nyepi is a time of purification prior to the New Year. All of the evil spirits that have been lurking over this island paradise are metaphorically told to pack their bags and scram! This is represented through a series of events that occur in the lead up to the sacred holiday. The day of silence influences the malevolent spirits into believing that there is no one left on the island; thus, causing them to leave.


The lead up to Nyepi sees a whole series of events occur. Driving around town in the weeks prior, you will notice each banjar (village) creating a large monster-like sculpture. These are called ‘ogoh-ogoh’ and represent the bad spirits that are being guided to leave the island during the Nyepi ceremony. Melasti ceremonies occur in the days leading up to Nyepi. They are a cleansing process for people and sacred artefacts which are held alongside the water, at many coastlines around Bali.

The day before Nyepi is when the action happens! It begins with prayers in the family temples followed by ‘pengrupukan’; where family members clang a series of loud objects (pots, pans, instruments) around their homes/compounds to chase away malevolent spirits. These spirits are represented by the ogoh-ogoh sculptures which will then be paraded, down the streets, from each individual banjar at 3pm towards town.

The central location for the largest (and most popular) ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud is at the soccer field on Monkey Forest Rd. Head there around 5pm to see the incredible sculptures. Each village is getting more and more competitive every year in the creation of their elaborate monsters. The ogoh-ogoh’s are usually (arrangements may change each year) paraded on the soccer field and then carried down Monkey Forest Road where they ‘compete’ against one another in a simulated fight. This is a sight not to be missed! Children and men from the villages haul the large monsters atop bamboo frames onto their shoulders and walk down the road. After which, they are carried home to be burned in their respective villages.

The following day is the day of silence. Everyone who resides on the Island of Bali at this time needs to respect and follow the rules of Nyepi.


There are four main Nyepi prohibitions; Amati Geni (no fire, light, electricity), Amati Karya (no working), Amati Lelunganan (no travelling), Amati Leanguan (Fasting and no entertainment). I know what you’re thinking ‘no fun!’- but you’re wrong! These rules actually create a magical peaceful landscape where we can go back in time from millennial tech, chill out, and give our eyes a break from the screen for a day. Say ‘catchyalater’ to the guilt that lurks around telling you to be doing more each time you relax; ‘cause on Nyepi- you legit aren’t allowed to! It’s a day where you are required to stop, calm down and enter contemplation as the Caka calendar clocks over into the New Year.

Here are the main rules to follow as of 6am on the 3rd of March until 6am on the 4th of March:

• Do not go out onto the street: Everyone is required to stay inside the premises in which they reside on Nyepi. There is no traffic on the roads or people on the streets. Every village will assign local law enforcers (pecalang) to patrol the streets via bicycle to ensure that no one leaves their accommodation.

• No motor vehicles may be used: With the exception of emergency services.

• Be quiet: If we haven’t conveyed the whole ‘silent’ factor of Nyepi yet. Keep the noise level to a minimum- no one outside your room should be able to hear you.

• No light: This is the most magical element of Nyepi. Because when there is no light pollution in the sky, oh boy, do those stars shine! Make sure you take glimpse of the shimmering skyline after sundown. It may just be the finest part of the whole experience of Nyepi. You can use low lighting to navigate around your indoor space as long as it isn’t visible from the exterior of the room- use your shutters.

• No electricity: This is a debateable one, as some people still use it. Technically you shouldn’t. But there won’t be anyone in your room to police this. If you do choose to use electricity, use it on things that won’t disturb the peace (i.e. no stereos, speakers, TVs). Turn off any automated electronics that may cause a disturbance (pool pumps, sensor lighting etc.)


• The airport will be closed from 6am on the 3rd of March until 6am on the 4th of March. Similarly, you will not be able to get transport anywhere on the island during this period.

• From around 3pm on the day prior to Nyepi, villages will begin to transport their ogoh-ogohs to central locations in each town in Bali. Undoubtedly, causing traffic jams. If you need to get around the island on this day, plan accordingly by allowing extra time in transit.

• Unless your hotel provides it, you will need to pre-arrange food and water for the 24-hour period to eat in your home/accommodation. We have posted some suggestions on Facebook about this. You can re-heat meals at home (as cooking smelly foods is ill advised), get takeaway or organise a pre-arranged meal pack to take home prior to the silent day.

• There will be no internet on the entire island of Bali from 6am on the 3rd of March until 6am on the 4th of March (*cue grumpy old foreigners having a whinge*). Any plans you have to work online, contact others via online services etc. will need to be re-arranged. This is the first year that the authorities are implementing this rule. It is an attempt to stop people leaving their homes and taking selfies on the abandoned streets (ugh, sigh), and to also promote the philosophy of silence and contemplation. [Note: authorities have confirmed that internet will be suspended during this time, but speculation still circulates as to whether it’s phone-only internet or the entire service].

• Most stores will be closed from 9pm on the 2nd until 9am on the 4th. Some may stay closed longer; however there will be plenty of places open around brunch o’clock by the 4th.

Nyepi is unlike any other holiday in Bali, and is certainly unlike any experience in the West. For 24 hours you can experience the entire island in complete silence; bugs, ducks and birds dominate the soundscape without the low hum of motorbikes. If you’re not keen to be a part of this enchanting holiday you can make preparations in advance to head to Java, Lombok or the Gili Islands (which are generally packed at this time). Yet, it is something that we believe, everyone should have on their bucket list to experience at least once in their lifetime.



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