PICS | Bali's 'Day of Silence' hit by virus fears

2020-03-25 08:45
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Bali's 'Day of Silence' was even quieter than usual this year as coronavirus fears prompted authorities to scale back an annual celebration that sees the Hindu-majority island in Indonesia come to a near standstill.

Known as Nyepi, the festival calls on locals to stay at home for 24 hours and reflect in a self-imposed lockdown.

READ: Bali is running out of water - what it can learn from Cape Town's crisis 

bali day of silence

A pedestrian walks past an effigy known as Ogoh-Ogoh displayed ahead of the 'Day of Silence' in Denpasar. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Flights and internet connections are temporarily halted while tourist attractions are closed to allow time for meditation and introspection.

But the celebration, which was marked on Wednesday, is usually preceded by street parades featuring colourful effigies known as Ogoh-Ogoh which are later burned, representing renewal and purification.

bali day of silence

Another Ogoh-Ogoh. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

The parades were drastically scaled back on Tuesday evening over fears of spreading the deadly virus, while authorities have also called off a related celebration featuring kissing couples.

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balie day of silence

Balinese people prepare offerings for praying. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Social distancing measures were in place for some traditional ceremonies that went ahead - with mixed results - and many gave offerings in hopes of warding off the virus.

"We hope the universe will help protect people from the outbreak," said Nyepi organiser Cokorda Putra Wisnu Wardana.

"The offerings will be placed in the river to symbolise our wish that all illness, viruses and things that make us fearful will be swept away," he added.

SEE: 13 Ways to love Bali the right way 

bali day of silence

Another Ogoh-Ogoh. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

For Bali resident Dwi Antara, virus fears - which have already pounded the island's key tourism sector - took the shine off the celebration.

"It's different this year," the 24-year-old said.

"Usually it's so festive... It doesn't feel like Nyepi."

bali day of silence

(Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country but more than 80% of Bali's population identify as Hindu and practise a local version of the religion.

empty beach in bali

A general view shows a near-empty beach in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. (Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP)