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Nyepi, the Balinese 'Day of Silence'

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Every year, Hindus on the Indonesian island of Bali celebrate Nyepi, the Balinese New Year's Day. Nyepi is a day of silence, reserved for self-reflection, where people stay home and are not allowed to use lights, start fires, work, travel or enjoy entertainment -- even tourists are asked not to leave their hotels. However, the days surrounding Nyepi are anything but silent - several rituals of offering and cleansing take place before and after New Year's Day, to rid worshipers of past evils and bestow good fortune in the year ahead. Devotees burn huge demonic effigies, whip each other with fiery coconut husks, give prayers and offerings, and young couples are doused with water during a lively kissing festival. Gathered here are images from Nyepi rituals in Bali and other parts of Indonesia over the past few years. [27 photos]

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A Balinese man hits another with a burned coconut husk during the "Mesabatan Api" ritual a head of Nyepi Day in Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, on March 30, 2014. Mesabatan Api is held annually a day before the Nyepi Day of Silence, symbolizing the purification of the universe and human body through fire. Nyepi is a Hindu celebration observed every new year according to the Balinese calendar. The national holiday is one of self-reflection and meditation -- activities such as working, watching television or traveling are restricted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
A Balinese man hits another with a burned coconut husk during the "Mesabatan Api" ritual a head of Nyepi Day in Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia, on March 30, 2014. Mesabatan Api is held annually a day before the Nyepi Day of Silence, symbolizing the purification of the universe and human body through fire. Nyepi is a Hindu celebration observed every new year according to the Balinese calendar. The national holiday is one of self-reflection and meditation -- activities such as working, watching television or traveling are restricted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
A Balinese woman prays while in a trance during the Melasti Ceremony at a beach on March 28, 2014 in Badung, Bali, Indonesia. The Melasti ritual is held annually ahead of the Nyepi Day of Silence, a ceremony intended to cleanse and purify the souls of the Balinese Hindu participants. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #
Indonesian men try to catch offerings thrown into the sea by Hindu worshippers during the ritual of Melasti on a beach in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on March 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Gembong Nusantara) #
A Balinese woman stabs her stomach with two short daggers called 'keris' while in a state of trance during the Melasti Ceremony at a beach in Badung, Bali, on March 28, 2014. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #
A Balinese woman dances while in a trance during the Melasti Ceremony in Badung, Bali, on March 28, 2014. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #
A lone Balinese resident watches the sun set on Kuta beach, Bali, before Silence Day, on March 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati) #
Balinese Hindu devotees carry an Ogoh-ogoh effigy during a parade in Surabaya, Indonesia, on March 30, 2014. Balinese Hindus hold an Ogoh-ogoh parade annually on the day before Nyepi (Silence Day). The Ogoh-ogoh represents the form of demons or the expression of bad traits, made by local artists, that are used to purify the environment. (Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images) #
Balinese giant effigies, locally known as Ogoh-ogoh, representing evil spirits, during a parade to celebrate Nyepi, an annual day of silence marking Balinese Hindu new year in Bali, on March 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati) #
Worshipers carry a giant Ogoh-ogoh during a parade a day before Nyepi, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana) #
Worshipers carry giant Ogoh-ogoh that represent evil spirits during a cultural festival in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, on March 13, 2013 .(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim) #
Balinese gather in front of their houses to prepare offerings for a ritual ahead of Nyepi day in Ubud Gianyar, Bali, on March 22, 2012. (Reuters/Beawiharta) #
Balinese boys put on monkey masks during a traditional ceremony to ward off evil spirits on the eve of Nyepi in Kuta, Indonesia, on March 18, 2007. (Dimas Ardian/Getty Images) #
A Hindu devotee breathes fire during the Ogoh-Ogoh festival parade on March 30, 2014 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images) #
A man spits fire as others carry an Ogoh-Ogoh during a parade on March 30, 2014 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images) #
Indonesia's minority Hindu devotees torch an Ogoh-ogoh effigy at a temple courtyard following a religious procession in Banyuwangi in East Java province on the eve of Nyepi, March 11, 2013. (Aman Rochman/AFP/Getty Images) #
A Balinese man hits another with fire during a cleansing ritual ahead of Nyepi day in Ubud Gianyar, Bali, on March 22, 2012. (Reuters/Beawiharta) #
A Balinese man kicks up fire during the "Mesabatan Api" ritual ahead of Nyepi Day in Gianyar, Bali, on March 30, 2014. Mesabatan Api is held annually a day before the Nyepi Day of Silence, symbolizing the purification of universe and human body through fire. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #
Balinese men strike each other with fire during the "Perang Api" ritual ahead of Nyepi day, in Gianyar, Bali, on March 11, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer) #
A Balinese resident patrols Kuta beach, a famous tourist spot, during Nyepi, or Silence Day, in Bali, on March 16, 2010. Hindus were celebrating their new year by observing a day of silence in which they stay inside their homes and meditate in silence and darkness for the entire day. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati) #
A view of empty street near the Bali Bombing monument "Ground Zero" during the observation of Nyepi on March 31, 2014 in Kuta, Bali. (Putu Sayoga/Getty Images) #
A traditional Balinese security official, also known as Pecalang, patrols a street during Nyepi Day, or a day of silence, in Sanur, Bali, on March 23, 2012. (Reuters/Zul Edoardo) #
A view of an empty Kuta Beach during the observation of Nyepi on March 31, 2014 in Kuta, Bali. (Putu Sayoga/Getty Images) #
A young Balinese man tries to kiss a woman during the Kissing Festival known as "Omed-Omedan" at Sesetan village in Denpasar, Bali, on April 1, 2014. The kissing festival is held annually, one day after Balinese Hindus celebrate the Nyepi Day of Silence. During the festival, Balinese youths gather first to pray, then to kiss and dance as spectators douse the teenagers with water. The festival is intended to fend off bad luck in the year ahead. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #
Balinese people soak each other with water during a tradition called Omed-Omedan, also known as the kissing festival, in Denpasar, Bali, on April 1, 2014. (Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty Images) #
A young Balinese couple kiss during Omed-Omedan at Sesetan village in Denpasar, Bali, on April 1, 2014. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #
Balinese people dump buckets of water on participants of the Omed-Omedan kissing festival in Denpasar, Bali, on March, 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati) #
A young Balinese couple embrace during the Kissing Festival known as Omed-Omedan in Sesetan village, on April 1, 2014. Locals believe the festival ensures the good health of those taking part and prevents bad luck hitting the village. During the ritual, village priests dump buckets of water over couples to douse their passions. (Agung Parameswara/Getty Images) #

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