Bali switches off internet services for 24 hours for New Year 'quiet reflection'

In Indonesia, one of world’s most connected nations, mobile providers will take island offline to mark Nyepi this Saturday

Internet services on Bali will go dark this Saturday, with providers switching off mobile services for 24 hours to mark the Indonesian island’s annual day of silence.

Nyepi, or New Year according to the ancient Balinese calendar, is a sacred day of reflection on the Hindu-majority island. Even the international airport shuts down.

This year authorities have called on telecommunications companies to unplug – a request Bali says firms have promised to honour.

“It was agreed that internet on mobile phones will be cut. All operators have agreed,” Nyoman Sujaya, from the Bali communications ministry, told tirto.id.

The plan, based on an appeal put forward by Balinese civil and religious groups, was announced following a meeting at the ministry in Jakarta.

This is the first time internet services will be shut down in Bali for Nyepi, after the same request was denied last year.

However, wifi connection will still be available at hotels and for strategic services such as security, aviation, hospitals and disaster agencies.

Phone and SMS services will be operational, but the Indonesian Internet Service Provider Association is reviewing whether wifi at private residences will be temporarily cut.

Indonesia is one of the most connected nations on earth, with more than 132 million internet users.

Balinese governor Made Pastika said it would not hurt to refrain from using the internet for one day. “If the internet is disconnected, people will not die,” he joked to reporters. “I will turn off my gadgets during Nyepi.”

Pastika said switching off internet services was a form of respect, at a time when Balinese are expected to quietly reflect, and avoid work and travel.

In the lead-up to Nyepi, Balinese perform traditional purification rituals, and thousands of giant effigies called ogoh-ogoh are paraded through the streets in theatrical, boisterous ceremonies.

The effigies symbolise demons and are often set on fire at the end of the parade.

According to Balinese beliefs, on the day of Nyepi the spirits roam the island and people must stay quiet and avoid lighting fires, or even turning on the lights, so as not to attract the attention of the demons.

Contributor

Kate Lamb in Jakarta

The GuardianTramp

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