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Bali shuts down for 'Day of Silence' DENPASAR - The normally vibrant Indonesian tourist destination of Bali came to a standstill Friday as the island's Hindu majority celebrated the start of the Hindu new year. The Day of Silence, known here as Nyepi, saw Balinese confined to their homes, unable to work, play and - for some - even talk or eat.

The island's international Ngurah Rai airport was closed while shops were shuttered and streets deserted apart from the presence of traditional guards tasked with enforcing the silence. Tourists who had on Thursday been hitting beaches and shopping streets were also made to spend the day inside their hotels out of deference to the holiday.

The strictly enforced silence - which started at dawn and will continue until dawn on Saturday - is intended as a time of spiritual contemplation for Balinese Hindus, whose unique brand of the religion incorporates many practices found only on the island. Friday's hushed tones were in marked contrast to the day before, which saw the island's close-knit communities buzzing with activity as the devout sought to atone for sins and as young men completed striking papier-mache effigies.

The effigies, known as Ogoh-Ogoh, represent evil spirits and were noisily carried through the streets at nightfall and then burned before sunrise to symbolise renewal and the cleansing of evil from the island. Despite the fact that Balinese Hindus make up a small minority of the general population, Nyepi is observed as a national holiday in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country.



Posted in Religion @ 07 March 2008 09:19 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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