Nyepi, a day after the dark moon of the spring equinox, represents the beginning of the new year for balinese hindus, according to the lunar calendar called Saka.
In the core of balinese philosophy is dualism: perpetual fight between the forces of good (represented by gods and goddesses, called dewa and dewi) and evil (represented by demons, called bhutas and kalas).
Balinese do not seek to destroy the evil, but rather to ensure the peaceful coexistence between these opposite forces, therefore maintaining the cosmic balance.
Nyepi is ‘the day of silence’, when roads and beaches are deserted; there are neither people nor vehicles in the streets; all businesses and shops, as well as the airport are closed, even the planes are grounded.
It is the day intended for contemplation and self-reflection: those with spiritual inclinations eventually fast, and do not even speak.
Nobody travels, and everyone’s at home: not a single light is supposed to be switched on, so by the night time, the whole island is wrapped in the mystical air of absolute silence and darkness.
However, the day before Nyepi is pretty ‘noisy’, as the ceremony, called Tawur Kesanga, takes place: numerous, and large groups of people (women, children and men) parade through the streets; singing, dancing, and shouting; carrying torches and giant monster puppets called ‘Ogoh-Ogoh’… before they are eventually, and symbolically burned.
The groups gather at the crossroads, which are believed to be the places where the dark forces of nature especially favor to lurk and reside: the noises are meant to awaken the demons, so that they see the offerings, which are supposed to amuse them, ‘feed’ them, and neutralize them.
The day after Nyepi, which is called Ngembak Geni (meaning ‘relighting the fire’) the normal daily routines are restored, with people’s bodies and souls regenerated and purified, since the demons have already been fed, gods thanked, and the cosmic equilibrium, once again-preserved.