Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bali Turns Into Ghost Town as Nyepi Is Observed

Bali’s normally bustling streets and beaches resembled a ghost town on Thursday as all activities were put on hold for the Hindu Day of Silence, ushering in the Saka New Year.

For 24 hours, the popular resort island observed Nyepi, the Balinese Hindu ritual that proscribes complete silence and puts prohibitions on worldly distractions such as work, travel, entertainment — and even tourism.

In Kuta, for instance, not a single visitor, local or foreign, was seen bathing or sunning on the beach, and all restaurants, bars and shops shut their doors for the day. Only groups of pecalang, or traditional security guards, were seen roaming Bali’s neighborhoods, ensuring public observance of the prohibitions.

“In addition to keeping security, the purpose of the patrol is to warn visitors who stray into the streets,” said Balinese customary law authority secretary Kuta Made Gunawan.

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