New Year’s Day of Total Silence in BaliMarch 7th, 2008 - 9:23 am ICT by admin
(Letter from Bali)
By Kul Bhushan
Bali, March 7 (IANS) Today is the day of silence in Bali. Instead of ear-splitting firecrackers, songs and dances that are the norm in the Far East, Bali submerges into deep silence. This is how Hindu-dominant Bali celebrates its New Year’s Day on March 7 - the entire island in Muslim-majority Indonesia becomes silent. All offices, schools, shops and institutions are closed. Even the airport is closed down. The roads are silent and deserted. No one leaves home. Nobody will answer the phone. Tourists are advised to stay in their hotels. No lights are switched on after sunset. The Bali Hindus - who comprise 96 percent of the Indonesian island’s 3.5 million population - will not cook, work, travel or indulge in sex in a collective attempt to purify the entire island.
The festival, called Nyepi, marks the day of the new moon but darkest of all nights. On this day, the entire island goes into mass meditation to restore the balance between the forces of good and evil.
In the days leading up to Nyepi, visitors to Bali are intrigued with enormous monsters called Ogoh Ogoh, along the roadside, made of papier-m