The Jakarta Post
The tourist resort island of Bali was quiet on Monday as the island's 3.8 million Hindus observed Nyepi (Hindu Day of Silence) ahead of the Caka New Year of 1936.
The provincial capital city of Denpasar as well as tourist areas and economic centers, which are usually marked by traffic jams, were deserted as all Hindus stopped working, traveling and all other activities by turning off the lights and sequestering themselves for introspection and fasting.
The Monang-Maning housing complex in Denpasar, where 2,500 families of various ethnic backgrounds live, was also quiet, reflecting residents' overall tolerance.
The same situation was evident across the island.
Foreign tourists, meanwhile, were required to remain within their hotel compounds.
Due to the holy day, the island's busy Ngurah Rai International Airport and all entry gates, including seaports to the island, were closed.
Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika had earlier instructed four relevant Cabinet ministers to 'isolate' Bali from the outside world on Nyepi.
Ngurah Rai airport co-general manager I Gusti Ngirah Ardita said that due to the airport's closure, 400 flights, including 152 overseas flights, had been canceled.
Campaign rallies for the April 9 legislative election, meanwhile, were also put on hold across the country in observance of the day.
Pecalang (traditional security guards), meanwhile, were deployed to ensure security and help in cases of emergency. The Kuta traditional village mobilized 39 pecalang.
'We will optimize available personnel to safeguard Nyepi around the clock,' Kuta traditional leader Wayan Swarsa in Kuta, Badung regency, Bali, said as quoted by Antara news agency on Monday.
He added that he would coordinate with Denpasar Police in the event of undesirable incidents.
He reminded members of the community to remain alert to prevent criminal acts during the Catur Brata Penyepian ceremony.
'We earlier informed all hotel operators to advise all their guests not to break the rules at Nyepi, a sacred day of the predominantly Hindu community,' said Wayan.
He explained that various sanctions would be imposed on violators, such as reprimands and fines. 'Depending on the extent of violation committed,' he said.
At 6 a.m. on Monday, two foreign tourists walking in front of their hotel were stopped and reprimanded by pecalang, who then spoke to the hotel management.
However, as it was their first visit to Bali and they claimed that they were unaware of the taboos, they were only reprimanded.
'We also urged all members of the community to help maintain security in their respective areas,' Wayan said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Hindus attended a ceremony to observe Nyepi at Agung Girinatha temple in Semarang on Sunday night. Prayers were led by preacher Made Sudira, who stressed the importance of self-control.