March 7, 2008 is the Balinese lunar new year, known in Bali as Nyepi. Tomorrow, the Balinese New Year's Eve, is known as Tawur Kesanga, a day that sees every Balinese village hold a public exorcism/carnival (sort of like how Mardis Gras precedes Lent, but only sort of). Nyepi proper is a day of total silence. No one speaks. No one works. No one transacts. No one turns on an appliance. Everything is closed, airports included. Essentially, "the world is expected to be clean and everything starts anew." The following day, Ngembak Geni, is one of forgiveness.

While Nyepi's origins are Hindu, everyone (really, everyone) participates, regardless of his/her beliefs. You have to wonder if reverence and ritual at that great a scope is even possible in the States--or if it could happen without a sale attached to it. Maybe that's too cynical, but we can't think of something comparable here.

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