Mar 27, 2017

Spending Nyepi in Bali--Part 2: The Ogoh Ogoh

A couple of weeks ago as we were passing by a village gathering hall in Canggu on our rented motorbike, we saw this giant headless statue, seemingly made of paper mache, painted and finished in a high gloss.  It looked like quite a lot of effort went into its creation.  We also couldn't help but notice its huge breasts and extremely long fingernails.  Then we saw the head laying near by.  It was frightening, and not at all congruent with the beautiful voluptuous body.

(Warning:  some images may be disturbing if taken out of the context of the ritual of Nyepi.)

It was the head of a demon.

We passed several more village halls and each had their own statue or even two.  And the theme was similar--huge bodies with demonic heads and hands.  And lots of attention to detail.

At this point, we did not know the rituals surrounding Nyepi although we began to suspect that these statues were related.  However, as these were villages not in the main tourist areas, the people did not speak enough English to be able to explain the ritual to us.

When we got back to Sanur, we were able to gather more information about this statue, which we now know is an 'ogoh-ogoh'.

An Ogoh-ogoh in Sanur, Bali

In fact the second part of the lead up to Nyepi is the Bhuta Yajna Ritual, which involves casting out the negative elements and bad spirits. Each village concocts its own unique 'ogoh-ogoh' to symbolize these evil spirits.  

On the eve of Nyepi, the villagers parade the ogoh-ogoh around.  It is a time of much noise and merriment, long into the night.

Around 7pm, we went to a popular intersection near us where we were told that the procession of local 'ogoh ogohs' would pass.  (There are many other places on the island to watch ogoh ogohs which are local to that particular area.)  We were not disappointed!

Waiting for the ogoh-ogoh to arrive

The crowds are building...

Around 8pm the first one appeared, followed by many many more of various shapes and sizes, coming into the intersection from 3 directions.  Each 'ogoh ogoh' was carried on a bamboo platform, lifted high by a group of young men including boys.

A group of young boys carrying an ogoh ogoh.

Check out our photos of some of the 'ogoh ogohs' that we saw in the 1.5hrs that we were there (it went on for much longer but we were tired).

Taking a short break from carrying the ogoh ogoh.

If you ever find yourself in Bali on the eve of Nyepi, be sure to ask a local Balinese where the closest place to check out the 'ogoh ogoh' procession--it's truly a fascinating experience for all ages.

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