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Hinduism in Indonesia

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    Hinduism in Indonesia

    Bali to shut down, literally, for holiday

    JAKARTA (Reuters) - Tourists hoping to party in Indonesia's Bali will have to cool their heels on Saturday when the famous island shuts for a holiday that will virtually close its international airport and confine guests to their hotels.

    The Hindu Day of Silence, known locally as Nyepi, is when the vast Hindu majority on the picturesque resort island seclude themselves at home and refrain from making any noise.

    Hotels will have skeleton staff on duty in Indonesia's premier tourist spot, 1,000 km (625 miles) east of Jakarta, and according to custom candles will replace lamps in guest rooms.

    "All flights to Bali on that day must be cancelled. Transit flights may land, but passengers should not get off or on," Nyoman Tama, an official at the Bali governor's office, said by telephone, adding transit flights would get "limited" service.

    An official at Bali's international airport, which handles numerous foreign flights each day, said overseas carriers had been informed of the holiday.

    The official said orders to shut the airport for Nyepi in the past few years had also been issued, although he gave no details on whether flights were cancelled. Officials have usually called on tourists in Bali to respect the spirit of the occasion.

    Hinduism was transported from India many centuries ago and has melded with traditional Balinese culture, giving it a different flavour to the faith practised in India.

    Hinduism once dominated much of the rest of Indonesia as well but over the centuries was largely displaced by Islam, making the country today the world's most populous Muslim nation.

    An official at the Sheraton Hotel in Bali said some employees would be on standby to take care of guests, who will not be allowed to leave the grounds.

    "They may go outside their rooms but they can't stay outside for long. They may go to the restaurant, for instance, but they can't hang around the lobby," the official said.

    "Lamps are not allowed in the hotel but people may use candles. But I think air conditioners will still work, otherwise it will be very hot."