(Music Recommendation: The Field/Over the Ice)

It’s Hari Nyepi today in Bali. The first day of the Balinese-Hindu calendar and there’s a 24-hour curfew from sunrise this morning until first light tomorrow, the streets are empty and anyone caught outside their house could face a ‘no bribe’ jail sentence. Last night there were big ceremonies all over Bali, giant papier-mâché monsters were marched through the streets to the beat of gamelan orchestras, cows were ripped apart by competing banjars and women left the temples with flaming torches to scare evil spirits away. I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a big project on magic and ritual in Indonesia, so I went along to one of the small villages outside of Singaraja (North Bali) to take a few images and learn a bit more about the ridiculously complicated calendar system that organises Balinese ceremonies. 

There’s a few different explanations of the 24 hour ‘seclusion day’ – some say it is to hide and trick the evil spirits into thinking there’s no one living in the village. Other, more analytic, Balinese explain it as a day for self reflection, an opportunity to reconnect with family and a chance to assess your contribution to the world in the previous year – sort of like a government-enforced, socially-conscious version of making new years resolution. Sort of.


 A teenage girl goes into a trance at a pre nyepi ceremony, Bali, Indonesia. 


Read more instalments from James Morgan’s amazing photo diary here