Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bali tourists must respect 'day of silence'

Tourists and residents on the popular Indonesian resort island of Bali will be required to stay indoors and make no noise during the annual New Year "Day of Silence" on 26-27 March 2009, and the airport will be closed.

Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi, is a strict Hindu custom that will take place this year from 6:00am on Thursday 26 March 2009 until 6:00am Friday 27 March 2009. The day is set aside for silence, fasting, meditation and self-reflection. Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens.

Authorities require that all people in Bali stay indoors, make no noise and switch off all lights for the duration of this period. The island shuts down, the airport is closed for domestic and international passenger flights, and tourists are expected to stay inside their hotels. Harbours around Bali will also be closed.

Anyone found outside during the silent period could be forcibly returned to their homes or hotels by 'Pecalangs', the island's traditional village-level security officers. Exemptions on movement will only be provided to emergency service vehicles and personnel.

Foreigners in Bali are being urged to be sensitive and to strictly observe local custom to avoid giving offence.

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