Bali will shut off mobile internet for a religious holiday

Associated Press

Associated Press

Indonesian transport ministry has chose to close the worldwide Ngurah Rai airport in Bali on Saturday for a Day of Silence that marks Balinese Hindu new year.

Nyepi is one of the most important days in the ancient Balinese calendar and marks the start of the Hindu New Year for the island.

Ngurah Rai global airport will be closed for 24 hours starting from 6am local time Saturday, affecting about 480 flights, including almost 240 worldwide flights.

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.

Today, effigies known as Ogoh-ogoh, which represent demons, will be paraded through the streets before they are burned to symbolise renewal and purification. The day after is celebrated as New Year's Day in Bali.

But modern technology has made enforcing the day's ban on noise, light and television harder as people, especially tourists, are increasingly reluctant to switch off their smartphones, officials say.

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Around 132.7 million people are connected to the web in Indonesia, according to Statista, and 28.8 percent of the Indonesian population accessed the internet from their mobile phones in 2017.

"We don't want any WhatsApp, Line, Google or mobile phone services operating during Nyepi because they are a disturbance", Sudiana told ucanews.com on March 13.

In a statement, the communications ministry said religious leaders in Bali had appealed for a 24-hour internet blackout from 6am on Saturday.

He said episodes of violence have broken out in previous years.

This Saturday, the quiet will extend to internet on mobile devices.

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