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Image: Silence please. Credit @agamsaputraa

On the day of Nyepi, all people on Bali cannot use fire, nor hear music, and they must stay home, or indoors, for 24 hours. And now according to many reports there is a possibility that the Internet will not be operating on the day either.

At a joint meeting on February 15 of the Bali Province Board of Religion it was decided to ask the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information (Kominfo) to turn off the Internet in Bali on Nyepi, the Day of Silence, March 17. The decision and appeal only came to light on Monday this week.

“We will have a meeting with Kominfo to ask them to follow up the plan and ask all of Internet operators to turn off their services,” said the Head of Dharma Hindu Parisada, I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, when he was contacted by on March 6, 2018.

Ngurah Sudiana said that when celebrating Nyepi, the Hindu community must perform Catur Brata Penyepian and not perform four kinds of actions. The first one is amati gni or not light a fire, then amati karya or not work, amati lelungan or not go anywhere, and amati lelanguan or stay away from any kind of entertainment. The prohibition of the Internet is included in stay away from any kind of entertainment.

“Nyepi belongs to the Hindu community, so it won’t be a problem if the internet is turned off for a day. The joint meeting decided to ask the internet providers to turn off the internet services on Nyepi,” he added. Sudiana said that the joint meeting was attended by the Indonesian Dharma Hindu Parisada, the Bali Province Government, the Bali House of Representatives, the Bali Province Forum of Religion Tolerance, Bali Polda, and the other local institutions.

The approval letter was signed by Bali Governor, Made Mangku Prastika, Korem 163/Wirasatya Commander, I Gde Widiyana and the Head of Bali Polda, Petrus R Golose. The letter contained eight prohibitions, including television and radio broadcasting in order to protect and respect the sacred day of Nyepi.

They hope the Internet will be turned off from 6am, March 17, 2018 until March 18 at the same time. “I am sure Kominfo will support the plan to help the Hindu community, so they can focus on the Nyepi celebrations,” Sudiana said. If Kominfo does not agree, he will still ask all of the Internet operators and the Hindu community to follow the recommendation.

According to Sudiana, quoted by Kompas, there is another reason they want the internet off, which is for security. Learning from experience in previous years, inter-community friction occurs as a result of information spread on social media. “Last year there was a pecalang (local banjar guards) incident in securing people, but on social media the information was twisted to eventually become something else,” said Sudiana. There are also occasions of residents outside snapping selfies and posting online, which is also disconcerting to religious leaders.

Meanwhile, various opinions have come from businessmen and Bali citizens related to this recommendation.

I Gde Wiratha, part owner of several hotels, pubs, restaurants and cruises in Bali – including Ku De Ta and Double Six – supported the plan completely. The no-internet condition can be a special attraction for tourists that want something different he opines.

“Good, if it can be done right, it means this is the only place in the world where individual interests are decided for the respect of the universe, a day of tok, 24 hours a year. Where else in the world can it be so?” he asked. He also said that there will be no problem from the business side, either.

“Business is relative, sometimes quiet sometimes busy, but I am sure Nyepi creates a positive impression for Bali. Bali has been the number one tourist destination in the world for many years, for people who really want peace, need rest and self-introspection, where else can you find that?” said the businessman who has thousands of employees.

However, the representative from the Regional Tourism Promotion Agency, Anak Agung Suryawan Wiranatha, said that this recommendation is too excessive. “When celebrating Nyepi, introspection must come from the inside. Moreover, there are other religions in Bali, so this recommendation goes too far,” he said.

The debate about internet and Nyepi rages on many social media platforms with some agreeing and others disagreeing.

We will bring you the latest news on this topic as it comes in.