Silence Please

Bali’s annual noise-reduction day, the Hindu rite of Nyepi, on Saturday provides everyone on the island with an opportunity to reflect on matters of the spirit. That’s good. It is a benefit available to all here. You do not have to be Hindu to appreciate the strong spiritual nature of the festival; you merely need to be aware.

This year, for the first time, nationally broadcast satellite television including the pay-TV service Indovision, the main provider of direct globally sourced news and entertainment, will be blocked. Some say that in a modern, tourist oriented economy you cannot afford to withdraw from the world. But it is only for 24 hours, from 6am to 6am, and for the majority Hindu population whose only home is this island, it is an important occasion.

Airline schedules may be messed up. The rave precinct in Kuta/Legian will be silent and deserted (a delightful break in the view of many) and tourists will have to confine themselves to hotels and accommodations that are granted partial exemption from the lights-out and no-or-low-sound rules.

On one point critics make about the total observance of Nyepi, we do agree, however. If Bali is to have its Silent Day – and it should, and must – then the provincial government and the tourism sector need to make sure the date of this occurrence is in the schedules of overseas operators in all our markets, well ahead of time – even 12 months.

That way, our unique celebration of spiritual presence could be a tourist attraction in its own right.

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