The way they do it on the small island of Bali is absolutely unique on a world scale. The New Year there is traditionally called Nyepi, with the exact date changing from year to year, in 2016th being on the 9th of March. So this part is nothing special to be honest. What makes Nyepi or the “Day of silence” different is how the spiritual Balinese celebrate it.
First, on the eve of Nyepi, Ogoh-Ogoh parades take over the streets. Ogoh-ogoh are truly magnificent statues of different shapes and size – real masterpieces of Balinese creativity who build them collectively for long weeks before the event. They are paraded throughout the island, cheered to, obviously selfied with and eventually… all burnt to ashes. While immensely impressive, Ogoh-ogoh symbolize mythological demons and as such need to be destroyed to purify the island from any bad spirits for the coming year.
Then, when Nyepi comes, the whole island pretty much dies for full 24 hours. The Balinese celebrate through meditation, contemplation and self-reflection, thus anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. Most notably no fires, lights, electricity is allowed. No entertainment, pleasure, preferably no talking or eating at all and definitely no travelling, as you are fully prohibited from going outside. This is serious - for foreigners and tourists too. The only ones that are allowed on the streets are Pecalang, the traditional Balinese police guarding the neighborhoods.
On Nyepi, Bali is closed off from the outside world for 24 hours and all the possible island’s gates are locked, including the international airport. Check it out – if you want to book a flight into/out of Bali, the date is crossed off.
Truly special in its silence and spirituality, Nyepi is one of the most interesting, deepest experience one can ever have in our loud and rushing world.