Bali shuts down for Day of Silence
DENPASAR, INDONESIA: Indonesia's holiday island Bali fell quiet yesterday for the annual Day of Silence, halting flights and Internet, and closing tourist attractions to allow time for meditation and introspection.
Known locally as Nyepi, Hindus on Bali were expected to stay at home for 24 hours and self-reflect. Non-Hindus and tourists were also asked to participate by staying indoors.
Cars and motorcycles were not allowed on the roads except in the case of an emergency; lights inside homes and on the streets had to be switched off; and tourist attractions and shopping malls were closed.
Ngurah Rai International Airport was closed for 24 hours starting from 6am yesterday, affecting 468 flights including 207 international ones. The head of airport authority Elfi Amir said in a statement: "One of the places that is always busy and noisy is the airport, (but) because Hindus must concentrate on their religious activity... the operations of the airport must be halted."
The local government ordered mobile Internet providers to shut down for the day, except for essential public services.
"We hope tourists can respect this tradition and participate by not leaving their hotels," Mr I Ketut Ardana, the head of a Bali tourism association told AFP, adding that visitors can use the one-day event to enjoy the quiet atmosphere.
"Nyepi is one of the most unique attractions of Bali, tourists actually come because they want to experience it."
On the eve of Nyepi, Bali held the ritual to ward off demons and evil spirits. In a parade, colourful effigies were paraded through the streets before being burned, representing renewal and purification. - AFP