Bali authorities officially cancel plans to hold Nyepi-like observance to curb spread of COVID-19

File photo of Pura Besakih in Bali’s Karangasem regency. Photo: Pixabay
File photo of Pura Besakih in Bali’s Karangasem regency. Photo: Pixabay

Following a heated polemic that’s mostly taken place online over plans to hold a Nyepi-like observance in Bali to curb the spread of COVID-19, authorities on the island today declared that the plan has been scrapped.

“There is no more Bali Nyepi or Sipeng,” said Ida Panglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, chief of Bali province’s Majelis Desa Adat or traditional village council, as quoted by Tribun

The observance, locally referred to as sipeng, was initially planned for three consecutive days, to be held later this month, and would only prohibit people from leaving their homes as opposed to following the exact same rules as the Balinese Day of Silence, according to reports. 

News of sipeng have been widely discussed online among local residents in the past couple of days, though authorities only announced their final decision about the matter today. 

Many are rightly concerned about the feasibility of such an observance, considering how some people have to go out to meet their daily needs. This includes Balinese activist Wayan “Gendo” Suardana, who took to Instagram yesterday and called on authorities to issue a fair policy to tackle the epidemic. 

“Planning to quarantine citizens for four days with ‘sipeng’ as your reason? Then who will take care of the people’s and their farm animals’ daily needs?” his post reads.

 

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“Why is this matter in the hands of Majelis Desa Adat and PHDI? Then what is the Bali provincial government doing? Come on, in the situation of an epidemic, issue a fair policy!” 

PHDI refers to Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, the country’s leading authority on Hinduism, which partook in the decision-making process for sipeng earlier today, along with Majelis Desa Adat. 

“We suggest that people observe heneng and hening in their own homes, and stay at home until the COVID-19 epidemic is resolved,” Agung Putra added, referring to local terms that can be translated as to mean staying calm and at peace. 

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