Bali is currently busy preparing another festivity in welcoming the Saka New Year 1940, known as Nyepi, which according to the Balinese calendar system will fall on 17 March. Nyepi is one of the most unique festivals held in Bali, for the whole island will experience total silence for 24 hours straight.
During the night before Nyepi, festivities will take place on the streets of Bali. On Nyepi eve, all the Balinese Hindus across the island will hold extravagant street parades and marching along the streets while carrying ogoh-ogoh, gigantic puppets. The ogoh-ogoh itself is skilfully shaped and crafted into forms of monsters representing evil spirits. They will be set on fire before midnight as a symbol of exorcism, essentially ridding the island of any evil spirits.
On Nyepi Day, when practices that involve pleasure, traffic, fire and work are prohibited, Bali will be abandoned. The only public facilities allowed to operate are hospitals – even the airport is closed. Non-Hindu residents usually go to hotels to seek temporary refuge before the ogoh-ogoh parade starts in order not to get caught in traffic; some of the roads are closed for the parade.
On 18 March, the day after Nyepi, an ‘after party’ will take place in Sesetan, Denpasar. The residents of Sesetan will flood the main road to celebrate the Saka New Year with the kissing ritual, Omed Omedan: bachelors and bachelorettes aged 17-30 of Sesetan gather on the area’s main street. Divided into two groups, they will take position and face each other. At a given signal, both sides will approach the centre of the street, and male participants will pull and kiss (sometimes forcefully) the female participants while the rest of the villagers in the audience pour buckets of water over them.