It must seem odd to be celebrating silence and power out. Yes the turning off of electricity. Well that’s exactly what happens during the celebration of Nyepi, the Balinese Day of Silence on the small island of Lembongan. The seemingly endless supply of energy is turned off for 24 hours. Yes, a forced electrical detox. I’ve done many a digital detox, but what would a full on electrical detox feel like? Can you do it? We found out last Saturday.
Last week the island of Lembongan prepared for Nyepi, the Balinese Day of Silence (Saturday 21 March). Preparations began 4 days before with offerings, ceremonies and the creation of the garish and colourful Ogoh Ogoh. This was then followed on Friday with religious ceremonies, street parades and the scaring off of evil spirits with loud plate banging and fire waving. All of this wasn’t new to me as I’d joined the pre Nyepi festivities many times in Bali. But what was distinctly different was that on Lembongan the practice of turning the electricity off on Nyepi still continues. Yes really, a forced electrical detox! I’m no stranger to digital detoxes, but this is different.
Darkness & Silence
Darkness and silence are a fundamental part of Nyepi with lights kept off and no noise, so electrical items are not used. No TV, computers, laptops, nothing that makes noise or light. So you may think heh, but why is this so different to Bali?
Well, when you actually think about what we use electricity for, think fans, AC, fridges, freezers, and here on Lembongan often water pumps, you start to get an idea. 24 hours of no fans or AC with a toddler could make for a very long night. If you’re camping in the jungle or mountains this is probably just what you’re looking for, but when you’re on a tropical island at 30+degrees with a small child the idea of 24hrs forced electricity detox is not quite so appealing. Aside from boiling hot, isn’t she going to get bored holed up at home all day? How on earth will we serve her busyness?
If you read my blog last year you’ll know I really like Nyepi, so in some ways I was very much looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with you family, be quiet, reflect on the year gone and cleanse. I always love the day after when the air is fume free and you can strangely feel and hear nature more. In fact I think the world should join Bali in the celebration of this day. Could imagine the global and environmental impact of a full on electrical detox…!
Our forced 24hr electrical detox was actually a delightful family time, most of the time! Keeping our toddler busy all day wasn’t half as difficult as I’d expected. A paddling pool, a big dose of sleeping and decorating the wall with a super cool World Map (although I think we enjoyed that more than her) helped us while away our day very happily.
The heat of night was a little more challenging. It was much cooler outside than in, but that means a constant air fight with mosquitos, one I’m not willing to take on. With the drop in night time temperature seeming to take forever we decided to recamp, open all the doors and move into our daughters tent style mosquito net. Much cooler and genius on my husbands part. Sadly our little one was also running a temperature, that combined with cooking her made for a very long night!
Smiles & Strangeness
So yes, of course we survived our forced electrical detox, enjoyed quiet family time together, and were so happy to experience again this unique celebration. In fact what’s rather amusing about all of this is that the week before Nyepi the island got hit by 4-5 power cuts. They came every day ranging from mid afternoon to early hours of the morning. Had the Gods been preparing us for Nyepi, or as the rumour went there was work being done somewhere that caused it. One will never know.
Either way it’s fair to say that power outs will always be an expected part of small island living, as will Nyepi, both of which we embrace. I would absolutely encourage you to join the club at some point. Try an electrical detox for a day. Notice the sounds you never hear, the feeling of freedom and calmness it can provide. The unique chance to really just stop and escape the buzz and noise.
Go on, challenge yourself and enjoy the silence!