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Day-of-Silence Campaign

Actually it has nothing whatsoever to do with Nyepi which is observed every year in Bali. Even though Nyepi is a day-of-silence observed across the island, this day-of-silence campaign concerns all of us in the world.

The climate change conference might be over but the efforts of some Balinese to bring the Hindu day-of-silence tradition to the attention of the world is far from losing steam. The campaign encourages people across the world to desist for one day from all activities that involve the use of energy and produce carbon emissions, thus worsening the global warming that is blamed for causing climate change.

A new website, www.worldsilentday.org, was launched to raise support for the concept.

Balinese spiritual figure, Ida Pandita Sri Bhagawan Dwija Warsa Nawa Sandhi, said the day of silence observed by Balinese Hindus is different from the day of silence envisaged by the campaign.

For the Balinese, he said, the ritual was a spiritual act while the campaign did not touch on the spiritual aspect, but rather focused on ecology.

“These two things are technically different but have similar goals (of protecting the Earth),” he said during a year-end discussion organized by the Bali NGO for Climate Justice.

Bhagawan said that if the campaign insisted on using terms only familiar or known to the Balinese, it would be difficult for outsiders to understand and might be opposed by other religious groupings.
The campaign, he said, was aimed at changing people’s habits, and ensuring that per capita growth would not be followed by per capita carbon growth.

“People whose standards of living become higher should not necessarily change their lifestyles,” he told Antara.

The executive director of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Ni Nyoman Sri Widhiyanti, said that the move to gain support for the campaign had involved a long process, including the holding of seminars, workshops and village-level meetings.

“We want real action to cut emissions to help saving planet Earth,” she explained.

She said the campaign had been gaining ground since before the UN climate conference, which was held from Dec. 3-15 in Nusa Dua and was attended by over 10,000 delegates and participants from 189 countries.

Activist Hira Jhamtani said the effort to promote the campaign had included the screening of a film on the day-of-silence tradition during the conference’s opening session.

Despite the fact that the film was screened after the speech by Bali Governor Dewa Beratha, she said he had failed to touch on the issue at all.

She also criticized the government for its tardiness in responding to the idea of introducing the day-of-silence concept to the world to help cut carbon emissions.

Currently, there has been no official response from Indonesia to the idea of promoting the concept, she said, adding that if a state did not adopt the idea, it would hard for the UN climate-change body to respond to the call.

Another way of obtaining support for the idea, if it failed to garner the support of a state, would be to collect 10 million signatures endorsing it, she added.

“Even if no state is willing to adopt the idea, if we can get 10 million signatures, we can push to have it included in (the UN body’s) discussions. So we need support from a state or 10 million people,” Hira said.