If you're a traveler who chooses to visit a place or city by selecting festive dates for cultural experience, Bali has the most unique new year's celebration called Nyepi. It is a Balinese "Day of Silence" that falls on Bali's Lunar New Year. This year it is observed from 6 a.m. Tuesday 16 March 2010, continuing until 6 a.m. Wednesday 17 March 2010. During this time all public facilities outside the hotel will be closed. It is a day of silence, fasting, and meditation. Be your own judge to select this time of the year to visit Bali or not.
Westerners open the New Year in revelry, however, in contrast, the Balinese open their New Year in silence. This is called Nyepi Day, the Balinese day of Silence, which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox, and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu era which began in 78 A.D.
Nyepi is a day to make and keep the balance of nature. It is based on the story of when King Kaniska I of India was chosen in 78 A.D. The King was famous for his wisdom and tolerance for the Hinduism and Buddhism societies. In that age, Aji Saka did Dharma Yatra (the missionary tour to promote and spread Hinduism) to Indonesia and introduce the Saka year.
Nyepi (from the word Sepi = silence) 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, 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 observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens. Tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside the hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets or to go on tours, 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 and women about to give birth. 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.
Many starred Bali hotels are said to have offered special Nyepi attractions, where they hope to be able to escort guests around the streets in vehicles, to take in the "atmosphere" of Nyepi.
A government spokesman, Nyoman Puasa Aryana, however says hotels have no dispensations, that only ambulances and fire engines may be allowed to operate on the day. Hotel owners should learn from past mistakes:
"A few years ago a tourist vehicle got attacked by a mob during Nyepi."Bali Tourism Board head, Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, said any hotels that encouraged their guests to drive around town were insulting the holiness of the day and the people who observe it.
Visitors are advised to stay inside hotels or accommodation compound for the duration of Nyepi Day as these are the only facilities available to any traveler on that day. Visitors are required to minimise noise levels throughout the day.
Visitors will only be allowed to buy foods inside the places they are putting up at.
To keep yourselves occupied, it is recommended that visitors prepare their own entertainment such as books, iPods, portable DVDs and snacks ahead of Nyepi Day.
No traveling outside hotel
Exceptions are granted only for emergency trips to the hospital.
Wishing you all a very Happy Nyepi Day!