Back in the days when I worked in the travel industry, there were a few places which captured my imagination and I Ionged to visit them (and still do for the most part). One of them was Bali, which is also known as the Island of the Gods, a tropical paradise.
I finally made it to Bali in 2009 on honeymoon, and it didn’t disappoint – the clear blue waters, lush green foliage, waterfalls, beautiful temples, and a people who never seemed to stop smiling.
Bali has a special place in my heart, so when I heard about “Nyepi” the Balinese “Day of Silence” my little introverted heart just had to smile!
My thoughts when I decided to write about Nyepi were really about how unusual it is to have silent days individually, let alone as a whole country. And yet now that I’m here, we’re in a time where we are socially isolating, and Bali is facing it’s toughest time yet as 75% of its income comes from tourism.
I first heard about Nyepi at a music concert. I’d gone to see Ólafur Arnalds play in Bristol, my first time seeing him live, and my first time going to a music event on my own. Before each piece of music he would explain the background to it and what had inspired him to write it – this helped you build a picture from the music. One of the pieces was called nyepi (click to watch a video of this live) and he explained a little about this special day in Bali.
The next day I asked Google to tell me more.
Nyepi is the third day of a six day Hindu New Year celebration and is dedicated to complete silence to allow for self-reflection. The aim is for “The inner and outer world to be clean and everything to start anew…”. In 2020 Nyepi takes place from 6am on March 25th, to 6am the following day. For twenty-four hours the entire island of Bali is dedicated to silence.
During these hours there are four principles which must be adhered to:
- Amati Geni: No fire or light, including no electricity. Satisfying pleasurable human appetites is forbidden.
- Amati Karya: No form of physical working unless it is dedicated to spiritual cleansing and renewal.
- Amati Lelunganan: No movement or travelling, including flights.
- Amati Lelanguan: Fasting and no revelry or merrymaking
I really like the idea of this. If you read my post on New Year Resolutions, you’ll already know I feel that March/springtime makes so much more sense timing-wise to start new things.
I like the idea that the days before Nyepi are for purifying and getting rid of demons. For me this simply means letting go of the things which are hurting us, which we cannot change, which we no longer wish to continue.
The Day of Silence gives us dedicated time to really understand what we want to bring into our future, what’s truly important to us, such as love, truth, patience, kindness, and generosity.
The day following Nyepi friends and families come together to ask forgiveness from one another – how wonderful is that, and how rare?
The final days are focused on bringing the celebrations to a close.
Now THAT my friends is what I would call a proper New Year! AND it aligns with the season of new growth – Spring!
My new Bali dream is be there for Nyepi and immerse myself in the ritual of it all. One day, fingers crossed.
Finding choice where there doesn’t seem to be any…
Because of COVID-19, people around the world are now being asked to stay home, to not go out merrymaking. Flights and transport are being cancelled. Some of us are unable to work, or losing our jobs. Some people won’t have food to eat because either the panic buyers got there first, or they’ve had to rely on free-school meals or food banks. These are not our choices.
We always have a choice
Maybe now is the time for introspection, for letting go of demons, for cleaning not only our hands, but also our inner world. Maybe now is the time to ask forgiveness, it breaks my heart that some of our vulnerable friends and family may not make it through. Maybe now is the time we choose to start anew.
I don’t know what the coming weeks and months will bring, I hope we can make it through this together (whilst apart). All I can do is wish this for you, and for all people. Stay safe , dear ones.
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you feel safe
May you be at peace