Bali plans to hold Nyepi-like observance to curb COVID-19 spread

File photo taken at Tirta Empul Temple. Photo: Coconuts Media
File photo taken at Tirta Empul Temple. Photo: Coconuts Media

Bali province’s Majelis Desa Adat, or traditional village council, says there are plans to hold a Nyepi-like observance later this month as part of an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 on the island, with the final decision set to be announced tomorrow. 

The council’s chief, Ida Panglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, told Tribun yesterday that nothing has been decided for the time being, as authorities would need to hold a meeting first. 

“We will decide on April 8. If it’s going to happen we will issue an official circular from the traditional village council,” Agung Putra was quoted as saying. 

The observance, locally referred to as sipeng, will only mandate that people stay at home for three consecutive days and will not follow the exact same rules as the Balinese Day of Silence, according to reports. 

Ordinarily, Nyepi encourages self-reflection by prohibiting activities such as lighting a fire, working, and traveling or going out, among others. The planned sipeng, however, would only prohibit people from leaving their homes. 

While official details have not been announced, news of sipeng quickly made its rounds on social media, showcasing divided opinions among local residents. Prompted by concerns over COVID-19, some are supportive of the initiative, while others question how people are expected to meet their daily needs should the observance take place. 

“I agree, but it’s important to inform the general public way ahead of the actual dates. So it doesn’t seem so abrupt.” 

“So will there be provision of food from the government?” 

“Those who have plenty of money from monthly salary have it good as they can simply stock up, but what can we do when we depend on daily income. If it were to happen for four days please think it further wisely.”

As of yesterday afternoon, Bali confirmed eight additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the island’s total to 43. This includes 19 recoveries and two deaths of foreign nationals. 

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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