Whether you’re a local resident or a tourist, most people spent the Balinese Day of Silence or Nyepi on Wednesday by staying in, keeping their lights off and noise down, making use of the opportunity to join in on a day meant to self-reflect. At least one person, however, didn’t follow the rules.
In a widely circulating online video, an unidentified foreigner evidently got into an argument with the local pecalang (traditional Balinese security forces) in Nusa Dua, as he insisted on going down the streets for a morning jog during Nyepi.
“What law am I breaking? You have no law, your police already made that clear. They detained me for 30 minutes and after discussion they have to let me go,” the foreigner can be heard saying in the video, as he faces a group of pecalang.
“If you’re still walking, I touch you,” one of the pecalang said.
“Then you touch me, it’s fine. Then that’s on you. It’s your religious holiday and you’re hurting people because they won’t follow what you tell them, come on,” the foreigner replied.
Nyepi, as most people are aware, is a special day in Bali synonymous with the whole island shutting down to mark the Hindu new year. Retailers close their shops, with everyone – including tourists – expected to stay inside, on a day where they are supposed to be free from daily routine, including work and play. The only exception applies to pecalang (and vital public services), who are tasked with enforcing the public observance among the Hindu-majority population.
The observance of Nyepi in Bali, for non-Hindus, comes down to respecting the longstanding traditions on the island, which really shouldn’t be that difficult considering it’s only for one day.
The altercation between the foreigner and local pecalang eventually ended with the former being tied with chains, and taken to the nearby police station.
The chief of South Kuta Police, Yusak Agustinus Soaai, told Kompas that the incident occurred on Wednesday morning, with the foreigner leaving his villa in Jimbaran. The villa staff reportedly informed him that activities outside weren’t allowed during Nyepi, but he still insisted on going outside for a run. He met the group of patrolling pecalang not long after.
The pecalang tried to reason with him and bring him back to his villa, only to have the foreigner arguing against the rules. The security forces then decided to tie him up with chains and reported him to the police.
“When he arrived at the police station, we explained that today is Nyepi, but he was stubborn. So we told him that thousands of other tourists understand, so why does he insist on going for a run?” Yusak said.
“We then brought him to his villa. At his villa he still insisted on calling his consulate general to report the chaining incident. We don’t accept his report because he was being disrespectful of the local culture here.”