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Alternative Way To Celebrate New Year: Balinese Nyepi 2012

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Here is an idea for an alternative way to celebrate new year: don’t do it in January.  Wait till March and go to Bali where the Balinese celebrate Nyepi, one of the holiest days on the Balinese calendar.  It is a day of silence dedicated to meditation, introspection and reelection on the past year.

Bali’s usually bustling streets are uncharacteristically silent on Nyepi because even non-Hindus keep quiet out of respect for this day of inward looking.  Some pople take it quite seriously and don’t talk, don't light fires and don't travel.  The day after is typically celebrated as New Year’s day. 

This came onto my radar again because on of my best friends, William Abel, is teaching yoga on a group tour to Bali in 2012 to celebrate Nyepi while practicing daily yoga.  He plans to start every day of the tour with 108 recitations of the Gayatri Mantra, followed by yoga and then breakfast (my favorite part).  William has been to Bali many, many times and is so excited about taking people to one of his favorite places on the planet, to do yoga (all levels welcome), chant, and visit some of the holiest temple sites on the islands.  He was the yoga instructor on a
recent tour that I was on in Bali and I think every person on the trip fell in love with him.

I have been to Bali so many times I seem to have lost track of the count.  And every time I have missed Nyepi.  I've only read about it and seen photos taken by friends of the giant paper-mache creatures carried around the streets (I believe they are claled ogoh-oghos) on the day before Nyepi.  So this time I'm hoping to hitch a ride on William's yoga tour.  For once I wont be a working staff member, but a genuin traveler-pilgrim (camera in hand) and I'll be able to bring back my own darn photos of ogoh-ogohs.

Something about a day of silence to prepare for new beginnings appeals to me. Growing up with party style new year celebrations typically left me feeling discouraged about the year just newly started with a hang over.  I don't mind waiting till March to begin anew, in fact, i'm rather looking forward to it.

If you want more information about William Abel, or the tour to Bali he is teaching on, click here.

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