Bali goes dead quiet for Day of Silence: Airport shut, streets empty, no social media activity | Pics

Bali’s annual Day of Silence is so sacred that even reaching for a smartphone to send a tweet or upload a selfie to social media could cause offense.
Balinese Hindu guards, known as Pecalang, patrol an empty road near Ngurah Rai International Airport on Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence, in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia March 17, 2018.(REUTERS Photo)
Balinese Hindu guards, known as Pecalang, patrol an empty road near Ngurah Rai International Airport on Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence, in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia March 17, 2018.(REUTERS Photo)
Updated on Mar 17, 2018 10:24 AM IST
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Associated Press, Bali | By

Indonesia’s normally bustling Bali has shut down social media, turned away flights and shuttered all shops for a Day of Silence that marks New Year on the predominantly Hindu island.

“Nyepi” began at 6 am on Saturday, emptying streets and beaches for 24 hours except for special patrols to ensure silence is observed. This year for the first time, phone companies have agreed to turn off the mobile internet on the island that’s home to more than 4 million people.

Aside from no Facebook, Instagram or instant messaging apps, television and radio broadcasts cease and Balinese stay indoors, covering the windows and not even turning on a light, for the day of reflection that is the most sacred in Balinese Hinduism.

A Balinese man is hit with flaming coconut leaves during the fire fight ritual called 'Lukat Gni' before Nyepi, the annual day of silence marking Balinese Hindu new year in Klungkung, Bali. (AP Photo)
A Balinese man is hit with flaming coconut leaves during the fire fight ritual called 'Lukat Gni' before Nyepi, the annual day of silence marking Balinese Hindu new year in Klungkung, Bali. (AP Photo)
A Balinese Hindu guard, known as Pecalang, patrols a closed Ngurah Rai International Airport on Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence, in Kuta, Bali. (REUTERS Photo)
A Balinese Hindu guard, known as Pecalang, patrols a closed Ngurah Rai International Airport on Nyepi, the Balinese day of silence, in Kuta, Bali. (REUTERS Photo)
Balinese men walk under flaming coconut leaves at Pundukdawa village during cleansing procession from evil spirit called "Mebubu" before Nyepi, the annual day of silence marking Balinese Hindu new year in Bali. (AP Photo)
Balinese men walk under flaming coconut leaves at Pundukdawa village during cleansing procession from evil spirit called "Mebubu" before Nyepi, the annual day of silence marking Balinese Hindu new year in Bali. (AP Photo)
Balinese children perform the Kecak dance before a parade ahead of the "Day of Silence" in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo)
Balinese children perform the Kecak dance before a parade ahead of the "Day of Silence" in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on March 16, 2018. (AFP Photo)

“Nyepi is the time for us to wash our hearts and minds of bad thoughts and deeds, plead with God to purify ourselves, human beings and the universe,” said Kadek Chantini, a Bali tour guide.

Not everyone was happy with the decision to disrupt internet access, saying it was going too far and an inconvenience for tourists and non-Hindu residents of Bali, but others welcomed it.

“It will certainly provide a quieter atmosphere so we can focus and concentrate on perfecting our meditation and prayers,” said Komang Suda, a resident of Denpasar, the Bali provincial capital.

The night before Nyepi is marked by noisy “ogoh-ogoh” processions of giant scary figures representing evil spirits.

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