March, 17, 2012 - 05:36AM

Nyepi silent day, escape to Gili………

Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to Bali’s calendar (in 2012, it will be on March 23rd). It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New year Gudi Padva in Maharashtra and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in India.

Observed from 6 a.m. on 23rd March until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are: no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, (this year they are planning on banning all Tv), and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.

Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali must observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions, women about to give birth, and this year religious Muslims will apparently be allowed to visit their nearest Mosque on foot in silence.

On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.

Although this is a very culturally invigorating experience, many visitors and expats do not want to be shut in doors, and so the Gili islands get very busy with people escaping this ritual. With the islands being Muslim, they do not adhere to the day of silence and parties are held instead.

So if you want to escape for the weekend, you need to book in advance, already many of the fast boat services are full, as are some hotels, although many people do not know about this until the few days right before, and a huge influx of people descend on the Gilis and Lombok.

If you are one of those people who prefer to party, please contact us, and we can arrange all your transport and accommodation needs.

For more information and bookings, please contact Island Promotions as soon as possible through the website www.gili-paradise.com or you can email us directly on giliparadise@gmail.com