NYEPI DAY IN BALI | All the Tomorrows for Surfing
Posted on March 30, 2014 by Trace
Tomorrow, 31st March 2014, is Nyepi Day here in Bali, the celebration of the Balinese New Year.
There are strict rules that are enforced on the Island where people may not leave their homes/villas/hotels, (even to surf or go to the beach) make noise, use electricity including lights, no work is carried out, shops are not open, the airport is closed for 24 hours, Bali seems to be empty.
But many surfers and beach lovers will be asking : Can you surf or go to the beach on Nyepi Day…?
The beginning of the New Year of the Balinese calendar starts with ‘fooling’ the bad demons. In the evening before Nyepi there is a big and loud parade, to attract and threaten the bad demons so they will leave the island. When the demons come back the next day they will find Bali ‘abandoned’… they will not find a single soul to steal..no humans to drag to the dark side. So the demons will leave Bali for a long time and all people can start the New Year in peace.
So the answer to the surfing question: No. It shouldn’t need saying, but somehow every year it does. The surf is off limits. It used to be that one could paddle out and in, as Nyepi was more relaxed, but these days the rules are strictly enforced. Be respectful. It’ll be easier this year for surfers with a view of the beaches and reefs, as the swell will be tiny (although SUPers might wistfully eye the micro-waves).
Historically, you used to be able to. Before the advent of mass tourism and commercialism, the Balinese pretty much celebrated Nyepi amongst themselves, and didn’t expect outsiders to follow their customs of staying indoors with no lights. Westerners, Javanese, and non-Hindus on Bali could wander about freely, on land and sea.
But with the onslaught of tourism, and the flood of foreigners, the Balinese started cracking down and insisting foreigners stay indoors. Up to the early 90s or so, you could still go surfing, and if you were caught by the pecalang (village patrol) you’d pay a fine at most. It’s only been the past few years that the airport’s been shut down, and I believe only since 2011 that television and local radio broadcasts have been suspended for the day. In part, this strictness is a form of cultural pride and identity, letting everybody know whose island this is.
Every Nyepi there are always a few surfers who sneak down to the beach before dawn and paddle out. They figure they’d just hang out in a beach shack or cave for the day and night, or sneak back to their joint. Surfers have traditionally disdained anti-surfing laws and regulations, flouting such rules if they can get away with it, but I don’t see why anyone would want to violate the spirit of Nyepi. Frankly, it’s disrespectful—one of the main points of Nyepi is that the whole Island is being spiritually cleansed, and you’re deliberately screwing it up for the Balinese. Would you piss in a cathedral, set lose a pig in a mosque? (Maybe some anti-establishmentarian surfers are thinking “would if I could” so for them the question is: would you drop your shorts and have an aquatic bowel movement in the midst of a packed Padang line-up?)
Not to mention this is the Island of Karma. Not to further mention that these days you don’t want to piss off the Pecalangs. Bad things could happen to you from both sides. Maybe you don’t believe in Karma, but it’s really hard to ignore a very angry Balinese.
(Interview excerpt above via Bali Surf Stories.. see the remaining of the interview here)
On another angle journalist Meeka Anne for the Bali Advertiser writes :
“Recently, Bali has received international press about Nyepi, due to the ever growing concern of environmental issues. It is estimated that on Nyepi day, Bali reduces the amount of CO2 emissions by 20,000 tons and 450 megawatts of power is saved which translates to a cost of 5.5 billon RP. The Bali Collaboration for Climate Control advocates the implementation of a World Silent Day. I have to admit, I have often reflected on the idea of a worldwide Nyepi. I know it can’t happen, but sometimes the words of John Lennon’s song Imagine come to mind. Imagine. Imagine if it could happen, what a profound effect it could have on humanity. Cease war, cease CO2 emissions, cease business, and disconnect from computers, social networks, email, and cell phones for just one day. If the entire world could just stop, and reflect silently for one day a year, it would have to mean the beginning of a better and gentler world, certainly a cleaner world. I’d love to hear the sound of silence of such a day as that.”
To read the full article from the Bali Advertiser read here
– To honour this Balinese tradition, HC computers will not be switched on during Nyepi, no posting of social media…zero…it’s just one day…
Imagine if the whole World stopped for just one day…Imagine…
Selamut Hari Raya Nyepi!!