Bali preps for Day of Silence

Indonesia's bustling tourist island of Bali is set to go quiet with Internet service and flights temporarily halted for a Day of Silence tomorrow, while singles get ready to pucker up.

Residents of the Hindu-dominated island stop regular daily activities for a day of meditation, fasting and introspection, an annual rite that includes elaborate beachside ceremonies and demon-like effigies.

Known locally as Nyepi, Hindus are expected to stop all work and play and remain indoors, while unmarried people kiss one another as residents pour buckets of water over them in a ceremony called Omed-omedan.

Shops and tourist attractions will be closed for the day although public services including hospitals are to remain open.

Today, effigies known as Ogoh-ogoh, which represent demons, will be paraded through the streets before they are burned to symbolise renewal and purification.

In the days leading up to the festival, observers dressed in white perform the Melasti ritual that includes a procession to the beach where they perform ceremonies involving traditional daggers.

Non-Hindus, including the tourists who flock to the tropical paradise, are asked to stay in their homes or hotels.

Cars and motorcycles are not allowed on roads except in the case of emergencies, while lights inside homes and street lights are switched off.

Mobile Internet providers have been asked to shut down service, except for essential public services.

Ngurah Rai International Airport will be shuttered for 24 hours starting from 6am, affecting about 480 flights, including nearly 240 international flights.

"Many tourists actually come specifically to experience the quietness and the serenity of Nyepi," airport spokesman Yanus Suprayogi said. - AFP