Nyepi celebrations: Mobile internet turned off for Bali’s New Year

Balinese Hindus go to the beach before the Day of Silence for a purification ceremony known as MelastiImage copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Balinese Hindus go to the beach before new year for a purification ceremony known as Melasti

Bali has asked phone companies to turn off mobile internet to celebrate New Year, which falls locally on Saturday.

Mobile internet will be shut down to mark Nyepi, a Hindu holiday on the Indonesian island.

The island’s airport will also shut for 24 hours from 06:00 on Saturday (22:00 GMT Friday).

“Many Hindu people are addicted to gadgets,” Hinduism Society head Gusti Ngurah Sudiana said. “I hope during Nyepi they can be introspective.”

Nyoman Sujaya, the Bali office chief of Indonesia’s communications ministry, announced the plan on Tuesday but said other internet access would operate as usual.

“Wifi at hotels, public services and vital objects such as airports, hospitals, security forces and banking still can run normally,” he said.

What is Nyepi?

Nyepi, known as the Day of Silence, is a day of reflection to mark New Year celebrations on the predominantly Hindu island.

Balinese Hindus observe four “prohibitions” – no fire, no travel, no activity and no entertainment. For some, that means no eating and no talking.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Locals prepare effigies symbolising evil, known as “ogoh-ogoh”, for a parade before the Day of Silence

Religious and civil leaders, in the police and the military, made the request to the Indonesian government earlier in March.

This is the first time the government has agreed to shut down internet access for the day, having denied the request last year.

The government announced the mobile internet ban will now be the norm.

The celebrations

  • Observers in the days before Nyepi perform the Melasti ritual – a procession to the beach where they have elaborate purification rituals
  • Ogoh-ogoh, effigies symbolising evil, are then paraded the day before Nyepi
  • On the Day of Silence itself observers follow the four prohibitions
  • The day after Nyepi is celebrated as New Year’s Day. Young unmarried people perform the omed-omedan or “kissing ritual”

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption The Melasti ritual involves elaborate purification rituals


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