(Above) Perang Api Ritual in Action
Video above shows the place looks deserted on the Nyepi Day (seclusion day), a day where silence, fasting and meditation is observed.
Perang Api Ritual literally meaning "Fire War" has been practiced over many generations by Hindus in Bali, Indonesia. , Perang Api commemorates on the eve of every Nyepi Festival. This year it was observed on 11th March, 2013.
Fire War is believed to have the potent to dispel negative spirits which started many generations ago. It has its origins hundreds of years ago at a time when the people of Bali was struck by a plaque and many perished. In order to overcome the situation, a ritual was carried out by lighting up a torch, shouting and throwing it at all directions. Incidently, people who were struck by the plaque was cured and that is how this practice became embedded in their tradition.
Before beginning the tradition, purified water is sprinkled on the participants to ensure no untoward incidents during the ritual. Then, coconut husks are piled and burnt which later the participants will kick in all directions. The participants will be broken up with two groups where they will also throw torch made of dried palm leaves on each other.
After the Fire War is over, this is followed by "Nyepi" which is Balinese New Year where the Hindus are required to observe fasting, silence and meditation purely for self-reflection. There is a restriction placed refraining interference with this practice. Any other activities such as working, entertainment or pleasure or even traveling is prohibited. In fact, there is even traditional security men known as "Pecalang" who will monitor and patrol the streets to make sure that the prohibitions are observed. There is an exemption to the rule though, that emergency vehicles carrying persons with life-threatening conditions or women with labor pain are allowed to pass through.