Two men were busted for driving motorcycles in Bali in the final hours of Nyepi, the Balinese Hindu New Year and ‘Day of Silence’ and had to be pursued in a chase by pecalang, traditional Balinese security forces.
The men, both Balinese, were reportedly stopped driving around 4:30am on Sunday, with just 90 minutes left of the 24-hour silent holiday, which was celebrated this year from Saturday, March 18 at 6am until Sunday, March 19 at 6am.
During Nyepi, Balinese take 24 hours to reflect and meditate and people are obliged to stay inside for the day, keep sound to a minimum, keep lights off, and refrain from work and entertainment. The island’s international airport is always shut down for this period and this year, some internent services and social media apps were even blocked by select providers.
The ‘silent day’ is enforced by pecalang, who patrol their local neighborhoods, making sure that people aren’t making making noise, using lights that can be seen from the street, and above all, staying inside their homes.
So, driving a motorcycle during the 24-hour silent period is a big no-no.
Putu Putera, 30, from Juuk, Abang and Nyoman Wiranata, 30, from Tista, Abang were stopped separately trying to rush to work by bike on Sunday morning, Pecalang Chairman of Subagan traditional village, Ketut Bawa confirmed with Bali Post on Monday.
At around 4:30am, both men simultaneous drove by Post 5 in Amplapura
When pecalang tried to flag the men down, both sped up on their bikes and rushed in the direction toward Denpasar, the island’s capital.
However, while the men were able to outrun the pecalang on the ground, they weren’t able to outrun phone signals—pecalang in Amplapura communicated with pecalang at Post 4, further down in Karangasem.
Bawa said they had tried to warn the motorcyclists to pull over.
“From a distance, we gave them a warning signal with flashlights to stop, because it was still dark out. However, these riders did not pay attention. They instantly accelerated towards the Galiran direction,” Bawa said.
But finally, pecalang were able to block them out at Post 3, in front of Los Kembang Remaja.
“They were immediately secured,” Bawa said.
While Bawa did not tell Bali Post what kind of punishment the pair would be getting, pecalang traditionally fine Nyepi rule-breakers though there have been cases where they get creative and make violators do community service and clean up the neighborhood.