People in Bali are expected to go offline (well, sort of) during the upcoming Nyepi or Day of Silence on Thursday, as the local government announced plans to block mobile data services and Internet Protocol television (IPTV) for a total of 24 hours while Balinese Hindus observe the holy day.
That being said, if you’re using fiber-optic internet at home or staying in a hotel that provides one, you can still go online using your phone or laptop as this service will still be available.
“Just like previous years, [internet service] providers that provide cellular data and IPTV in Bali Province and nearby will turn off these services,” said Gede Pramana, Head of the Communication, Informatics and Statistics Agency in Bali.
Vital public objects such as hospital services, police stations, military, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), and fire department will be exempted from this rule.
The partial shutdown starts on Thursday 6am and ends Friday 6am.
Separately, I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, the chairman of the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), the country’s leading authority on Hinduism, said the organization welcomes the partial internet shutdown.
According to him, going offline can lower any risks of arguments (or even worse, insults) appearing on social media between religious groups.
“So that [people] do not upload any words that could incite anger during Nyepi Day. [As well as] not uploading events that can destroy interfaith harmony,” he said.
Calls for internet shutdown in Bali have reportedly increased in the past years after selfies showing non-Balinese Hindus going out during Nyepi (a big don’t, in case you need a reminder) circulated on social media a couple of years ago.
Nyepi falls on Thursday, March 3 this year. People on the island who are not Balinese Hindus are still expected to respect the sacred practice and stay inside, where lights are not supposed to be seen from the outside. Tradition holds that people are not supposed to work or travel, as they are expected to use the day for self-reflection.
The announcement that mobile data will be blocked during Nyepi also came out last year. However, some people alleged that they could still use mobile data services despite the circular.
“Last year, they [the government] said mobile data would be blocked but [in reality] it was still available,” said a Balinese woman who preferred to remain anonymous.