March 7 marks one of the most important days of the Balinese calendar: Nyepi. One of the world’s most unique cultural events, during Nyepi the entire island of Bali comes to a halt for 24 hours to participate in an island-wide purification ceremony. Beginning at 6:00 am on March 7, the use of lights is forbidden in Bali, the airport comes to a standstill with no flights departing or arriving, shops close, machinery and vehicle usage is banned, no work is allowed, and people across the island cannot leave their homes, or for travelers, hotels.
The one-of-a-kind ceremony follows an age-old tradition where the island’s inhabitants go into silence during a ritual called the Catur Brata Penyepian, which means “Four Nyepi Prohibitions.” The prohibitions include:
- Amati Geni – no fires or lighting (or lights must be kept low). In Hinduism, fire represents human ego and emotions, therefore the Balinese believe it is important to control the fire in our minds, too.
- Amati Karya – no working. No working means self-evaluation for what we have done over the past year.
- Amati Lelungan – no traveling. Based on the Hindu philosophy, no traveling means controlling your mind from all negativity.
- Amati Lelanguan – no entertainment (including fasting and general activities). In Hinduism, Brata Penyepian means to do Tapa Brata (meaning to abstain from everything, including entertainment, drinking alcohol, and eating).
Despite the rules being slightly more relaxed for tourists, many Balinese properties encourage visitors to take part in the island’s local traditions, including Ayana’s and Four Seasons’s Balinese properties.
Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali, The Villas at Ayana, and Rimba Jimbaran Bali by Ayana are offering a two-night Nyepi Package that intertwines a relaxing holiday with the one-of-a-kind cultural experience. On Nyepi Eve, March 6, guests are encouraged to dress in traditionally themed attired of a complimentary t-shirt and sarong, plus Udeng ceremonial head dresses for men. Guests can participate in the resort’s Ogoh Ogoh Festival, a ceremony that involves parading giant paper marché monsters around the resort. Afterwards, cultural celebrations continue with a buffet feast at Kampoeng Bali. The two-night package also includes a two-hour Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pool treatment for two, and on during Nyepi on March 7, guests can settle on the Rimba Lawn for a “Star Gazing and Grazing” dessert-style picnic, served beneath a canvas of illuminated stars.
At the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, guests can participate in a three-day “Guided by Gratitude” retreat, designed by Sayan’s resident wellness mentor Ibu Fera, a former Buddhist nun; and the resort’s yoga, Reiki, and meditation master, Faraaz Tanveer. Though inspired by Nyepi, self-reflection, and the Balinese-Hindu New Year, the retreat revolves around individual participants is tailored to their specific time frame. It can be done at any date, any time of the year, and can be extended beyond three days. Activities include meditation, yoga classes, Balinese water blessing rituals, sound therapy, chakra balancing, and a Sacred Nap experience.