Residents of the Indonesian island of Bali are spending a day of silent reflection to mark their New Year. This year, phone companies have agreed for the first time even to turn off mobile internet services.
Balinese have been spending a day largely without television, radio and mobile internet on Saturday as the predominantly Hindu Indonesian island marks New Year with a traditional "Day of Silence," or "Nyepi."
Streets and beaches have emptied except for special patrols tasked with ensuring that silence is observed on a day of reflection that is the most sacred in Balinese Hinduism.
For the first time, telecoms providers have this year shut down some mobile internet services on the island. Smartphones will not be able to connect to the internet, preventing access to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and instant messaging apps.
Shops and temples have been closed, and the standstill also includes a temporary closure of the international airport.
Some people also observe a fast.
A chance to reflect
The day is intended to provide an opportunity to meditate and pray in peace and quiet, with residents covering windows and not even turning on lights. Non-Hindu residents and tourists are also affected by the restrictions and are not allowed to go to the island's famous beaches or walk on the streets.
Nyepi is preceded by a night in which noisy "ogoh-ogoh" processions take place, featuring giant, scary figures that represent evil spirits.
The period of silence began at 6 a.m. local time (00:30 UTC) and runs for 24 hours.
tj/jlw (AP, Reuters)