No TV for Nyepi, But Muslim Prayers Allowed
Broadcasters have been ordered to cease operations in Bali during the forthcoming Nyepi festival, but with the Balinese “day of silence” falling on a Friday this year, local Muslims will be permitted to carry out their weekly prayers.
Last week the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) in Bali issued a warning to cable TV operators stating that they must suspend broadcasts for the duration of the festival on March 23.
“Do not broadcast during Nyepi,” said the KPI chief Komang Suarsana.
Suarsana said he had issued the warning because during previous years, while mainstream terrestrial broadcasters had followed edicts and suspended programming during Nyepi, some private cable stations had continued to broadcast.
He said it was difficult to monitor the cable sector, as many operations were small and not necessarily covered by licensing laws.
Suarsana said the Bali office of KPI had written to all broadcasters ordering them to stop broadcasting in Bali for a full day on 23 March.
Despite the ban on broadcasts, however, local Muslim residents will be permitted to visit mosques to conduct midday prayers during Nyepi.
The rules of the day, strictly enforced by community guards, generally require that all residents and tourists remain indoors. But this year the festival coincides with Friday, the most important day of the Muslim week when practicing Muslims are expected to attend communal prayers.
After consultation, the Religious Affairs Ministry’s Bali office agreed to allow Friday prayers to go ahead as usual.
Ministry spokesman Nyoman Arya said that while prayers at mosques would be held, Muslims would be required to forgo motor transport and would need to travel to make their prayers on foot. They would be expected to conduct the ritual in the nearest available public space, rather than their usual mosque if it lay far away, he said.
“Of course, that should be communicated prior to Friday with the respective banjar and neighbourhood heads,” Arya said.
According to tourism officials the restrictive nature of the celebrations actually attracted, rather than deterred tourists. Hotel manager Andi Ananto said that bookings for the day of Nyepi currently stood at around 70 percent, well above the March average.
“Since December 2011, there have been quite a lot of foreign tourists, especially from Australia, who have booked the Nyepi package at our hotel,” he said.
Ananto said there was also interest in the Nyepi packages from domestic tourists.Filed under: Headlines