Why you need to visit Bali in March
Bali, also known as The Island of the Gods has a unique way of drawing people in from all over the world. It always leaves a deep, memorable imprint on anyone who visits. Have you ever felt compelled to run away and experience something completely different? Or maybe you want to know what it’s like to meditate in silence with an entire community, sing and dance like no one is watching and be out in nature eating incredible local food? Bali is that place. A tropical paradise where you can try something new surrounded by natural and spiritual beauty.
Why you need to drop everything and come to Bali in March!
The main reason I came to Bali was because I wanted a change, I felt easily irritated, down and impatient. I wanted to experience something completely different, so I came to Bali in March. Home to large spiritual events like the annual BaliSpirit Festival and major Balinese Hinduism ceremonies throughout the year, Bali is a mecca for yogis, surfers and soul searchers. Although I came to Bali by myself, I never felt alone.
Balinese New Year
So you might be thinking, why March? One of the biggest and most unique ceremonies of the year in Bali happens in March: Nyepi which will fall on March 7th/8th 2019, just before the BaliSpirit Festival. Cleansing and purification are the pillars of Balinese Hinduism and Nyepi is Bali’s New Years Day, a day of silence.
The Balinese celebrate their new year in two stages over two days, both are huge rituals of purification and cleansing. Firstly, the Ogoh-Ogoh parade is the external purification process, involving crowds of people parading the ogoh-ogoh statues followed by Nyepi the next day, which is an internal practice of self-reflection, meditation and fasting.
The Ogoh-Ogoh Parade
The Balinese new year is a cleansing process for the physical body and the environment, from any evil spirits, bad deeds, influences and thoughts emitted by humans. In the run up to the Ogoh-Ogoh parade and Nyepi, youth groups from villages throughout Bali spend weeks building and preparing Ogoh-Ogoh, which are large statues, mostly in the form of mythological demons representing negative aspects of living things. The Ogoh-Ogoh statues are then paraded around villages to the sound of the traditional gamelan instrument throughout the villages, before being burnt to ashes, symbolising self-purification.
Ogoh-ogoh statues in Ubud, Bali:
Kids posing with their ogoh-ogoh:
Ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud:
Bali’s day of silence – Nyepi
After the lively and public Ogoh-Ogoh parade, the second day of purification Nyepi is the polar opposite, a day set aside to connect with nature to meditate and reflect on the new moon. Nyepi traditionally has 4 rules: no activity, no travel, no fire (electricity) and no entertainment. The whole of Bali shuts down, completely, even the airport. You can hear the birds with no sounds of traffic, you can see all the stars with absolutely no lights polluting the sky. Everyone stays at home to rest and reflect. I can’t fully express the beauty and energy this sacred day emanates, you just have to trust me and please experience it for yourself!
Could you ever imagine this happening where you are from? An entire city, a whole island shutting down to reflect and meditate? There is nowhere else in the world that you will experience this rare, chillingly magical day. A day enforced by law to do absolutely nothing, throughout the whole of Bali. Nyepi is to give mother earth a break from 364 days of human activity, to replenish and recharge for the new year.
Bali Weather in March
OK so what else is great about March, what else is there to do in Bali besides the BaliSpirit Festival and experiencing Balinese new year? Well, March is still the low season (just before the busy summer months) and straight after the rainy season (typically November – February) so the weather is perfect. Bali has something for everyone, for adrenaline junkies there’s world famous surf swells, tropical diving, snorkeling, white water rafting or volcano trekking. For those who want a quiet chill-out, there are temples, tropical rain-forests, rice paddies galore, yoga, holistic healing and some of the best restaurants and food in South East Asia.
Bali in March:
Foodies will love Bali, from tiny street side Warungs with Nasi Campur and Satay sticks to healthy West meets East fusion restaurants, there will definitely be something to tickle your taste buds. Ubud is the culinary capital of Bali with raw, macro, vegan, gluten-free, cold-pressed juices around you left, right and center. A large number of these organic, local food outlets are at BaliSpirit Festival for you to sample and try for yourself.
Being at the BaliSpirit Festival and experiencing Nyepi brought me into a new community. I learnt how to live in the present with a new understanding of Balinese culture. Through yoga and meditation workshops at BaliSpirit Festival I learnt the importance of slowing down a beat or two and taking time to meditate.
The BaliSpirit Festival runs from March 24th – March 31st.. Check out the range of tickets available from 1 day passes to 7 days/8 nights of festival access. Bali’s silent day, Nyepi is on March 7th/8th 2019 – and you cannot fly in or out of Bali on this day! I hope you take time for and allow yourself to experience the culture of Bali through meditation, dance, yoga and world music this March.
Written by Maeve Nelligan