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Bali shuts down for 'Day of Silence'

Photo: AFP

Indonesia's holiday island Bali fell quiet Thursday for the annual "Day of Silence" festival, halting flights, internet and closing tourist attractions to allow time for meditation and introspection.

Known locally as Nyepi, Hindus on the island are expected to stay at home for 24 hours and self-reflect.

Non-Hindus and tourists are also asked to participate by staying indoors for the island's annual shutdown.

Cars and motorcycles are not allowed on the road except in the case of an emergency, lights inside homes and on the street must be switched off, and tourist attractions and shopping centres will be closed.

Ngurah Rai international airport said it will close for 24 hours starting from 6 am on Thursday (2300 GMT Wednesday), affecting 468 flights including 207 international ones.

"One of the places that are always busy and noisy is the airport, because Hindus must concentrate on their religious activity... the operational of the airport must be halted," head of the airport authority Elfi Amir said in a statement.

The local government has ordered mobile internet providers to shut down for the day, except for essential public services.

"We hope tourists can respect this tradition and participate by not leaving their hotels," I Ketut Ardana, the head of a Bali tourism association told AFP Wednesday, adding that visitors can use the one-day event to enjoy the quiet atmosphere on the island.

"Nyepi is one of the most unique attractions from Bali, tourists actually come because they want to experience it," Ardana said.

On Wednesday, a day before Nyepi, the island held its annual ritual to ward off demons and evil spirits.

In the parade, colourful effigies known as Ogoh-Ogoh were paraded through the streets before being burned, representing renewal and purification.

Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country but more than 80 percent of Bali's population identify as Hindu and practice a local version of the religion.

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