DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — Bali's airport will close for 24 hours, the internet will be turned off and streets emptied as the predominantly Hindu island in Indonesia observes its New Year with an annual day of silence.
"Nyepi" begins at 6 a.m. Thursday, clearing beaches and all public spaces of people except for special patrols to ensure silence is observed. For the second year, phone companies will turn off the mobile internet on the island, home to more than 4 million people.
Balinese will stay indoors, covering windows and keeping lights off for the day of reflection that is the most sacred in Balinese Hinduism.
"A day of silence to mark Saka (Balinese calendar) New Year for us Balinese Hindus is an opportunity to restart life with a pure heart," said Wayan Gota, a hotel manager in Kuta, one of the island's tourist hotspots.
"For me, through the ritual of observing thoughts while meditating on Nyepi, in essence I get the opportunity to evaluate my achievements for the past year and rearrange the plan of life for the next year," he said.
The night before Nyepi is celebrated with noisy "ogoh-ogoh" processions of giant scary figures symbolizing evil spirits. During Nyepi, any tourists on the island have to stay in their hotels. TV and radio broadcasts also stop.
In past years, tourists, both foreign and Indonesian, have been arrested for wandering around Kuta during Nyepi.