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Ogoh-Ogoh and Nyepi; From Crowds Celebration to Self-Meditation

As we know that many people have chosen Bali as their tourism destination to travel to. Bali has its own charm, with its diverse cultures and landscapes. However, what if you visit Bali —which is also well-known as the Island of the thousand temples, with a different atmosphere?

Try to visit Bali during Nyepi week. Perhaps, it sounds really boring if you are isolated in your hotel room, but do you know, on the Nyepi eve there is a parade of glorious giant doll and it will be one of your unforgettable moment while you are in Bali? Exactly, that  is Ogoh-ogoh.

Ogoh-ogoh represents Bhuta Kala (Bhuta: eternal energy, Kala: eternal time according to Sanskrit literature), or evil spirits from traditional Balinese folklore, and represents the visual highlight of the pre-Nyepi (Pengerupukan) celebrations. Ogoh-ogoh is a giant, demon, or monster that made from Styrofoam, cloths, bamboos, and it’s cavalcaded by a lot of people to a place (usually beach) and at last it’s burned. It has the shape of various characters, but it’s especially the creepy one, such as rangda, barong, and even more complicated because it tells a part of Balinese stories (Ramayana), like when Rama fought Rahwana that had kidnapped Shinta. But, nowadays, the shape of ogoh-ogoh itself can be so variegated, like a punk man, corruptors, cartoon and any other else.

The effigies are paraded down thoroughfares at sunset on the day before Nyepi (or known as Pengrupukan), to the tune of traditional gamelan music, where each village or banjar releases one or some of their creation and it’s often to be contested as well. Every participant will carry away their ogoh-ogoh to a determined place while the girls bring the porch or obor. At that place, each banjar will parade and show the attraction that they have prepared, of course along with their ogoh-ogoh. They will dance and narrate what the purpose of ogoh-ogoh they have been created about.

The festivities on Pengerupukan stand in stark contrast to the 24-hour period of silence observed from 6am the next day. Balinese are forbidden from lighting fires, working, and entertainment. Some Balinese go further, fasting and keeping silent for the whole day.

Well, it seems an upside-down situation when you find out the day before Nyepi, most of the people come down to the road, Balinese men lift an ogoh-ogoh in preparation for the Pengerupukan. In the other day, it will present a starkly different picture —the bustling streets and roads so typical of Bali will be silent, with little noise from any quarter (even TVs and radios will be shut off for the whole day). The only persons allowed out during Nyepi are the pecalang, black-clad town enforcers who go on patrol to enforce silence.

On the day of Nyepi, Balinese are expected to meditate in the dark, or pray at their house temples. Balinese are forbidden from entertaining guests, or traveling – in fact, Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport is closed all day during Nyepi. (The airport authorities will make exceptions for hospital flights and other such emergencies, although this will still depend on the say-so of the village chiefs.) At the conclusion of Nyepi, the world is considered to be cleansed from evil.

This is one of the famous parade exists in Bali. It makes thousand tourists from any other country come to Bali, just want to watch the parade which is only done once a year. If you want to see the parade, just come to Bali on the 28th of March to see the parade and you will feel comfortable of silent and peace atmosphere outside, the day after. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading, fellas!
Lots of love,

7 thoughts on “Ogoh-Ogoh and Nyepi; From Crowds Celebration to Self-Meditation

    1. Hi Joe,

      Thank you for visiting my blog. There’s no big differences, actually. Almost every districts in Bali will have their own Ogoh-Ogoh parade which each ‘Banjar’ show off their own on the Nyepi eve.
      But where ever it is, even it’s not located in Bali, Ogoh-ogoh parade will be surely invited lots of people to watch and enjoy.

  1. Today I was told by a man from Denpasar that whereas there were maybe up to twenty agoh-agoh effigies in Kuta’s event, there would be upwards of a hundred in Denpasar’s, many of a smaller variety that can be carried by children. I was also told that unlike in Kuta, the event in Denpasar takes place in multiple (many?) locations. And, finally, I had read that one possible difference might be Denpasar’s inclusion of more contemporary themes and effigies, as opposed to Kuta’s more traditional demons. Comments?

    1. Hi Joe,

      So sorry for replying super late. I hope this could be your future reference.

      “Today I was told by a man from Denpasar that whereas there were maybe up to twenty agoh-agoh effigies in Kuta’s event, there would be upwards of a hundred in Denpasar’s, many of a smaller variety that can be carried by children.”

      As I am not originally either from Denpasar or Kuta (but east Bali), I think twenty effigies are the best way to avoid Kuta from its crowdedness. And yes, children (starting from age 10 and up) usually create their smaller Ogoh-ogoh to celebrate, they will not be able to lift up the regular size one, won’t they?

      “I was also told that unlike in Kuta, the event in Denpasar takes place in multiple (many?) locations.”
      Okay, the simpler way to explain is, Kuta and Denpasar are in different districts. So, Kuta is definitely a village which is very well-known because this is a tourism object with packed of tourists and loads of hotels, restaurants, with small roads. It means, if people hold few parades in Kuta, you know what will happen next hehehe.
      Meanwhile, Denpasar is our municipality, which has four districts and each has more than five Banjars (smaller community organization, usually placed in every village). That is why the event takes place in many locations. FYI, the biggest parade will be in Lapangan Puputan Badung, every year.

      “And, finally, I had read that one possible difference might be Denpasar’s inclusion of more contemporary themes and effigies, as opposed to Kuta’s more traditional demons.”

      Actually, this depends on their creativity and ideas also every Banjar’s budget. But the one thing you have to underline is, every Ogoh-ogoh has its own story. Somehow they will create it based on the traditional history and ancestor’s belief.​ Check this link out to see the Ogoh-Ogoh that was being a primadona this year https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Knpu33SM-uc

      1. Thanks for such a full response, and for the youtube link. I know that wasn’t showing Kuta’s event, because I was there from the first to the last – at 1:30 a.m. Was it Lapangan Puputan Badung’s? (BTW: apologies for the misspelling of Ogoh-ogoh.)

        One thing I’m still not clear about. Each of the (20 or so) banjars in Denpasar has its own event, paraded in its own place, is that right?

        And so, when people talk about “upwards of a hundred” of the Ogoh-ogoh there, they’re talking about more than a hundred in the aggregate, totaling all the effigies in all the banjars’ events together is that right? (And then there might be some banjars displaying only a half-dozen or so, right?)

        Again, thanks. Would you be willing to answer questions about Calanarang and other “dances,” too?

        1. Lapangan Puputan Badung is located in Denpasar, so the participants might be coming from this area. To be honest, I’m not sure about which part of Kuta they paraded the effigies, sorry.

          Yep. If you have plenty of time to go down the street riding your bike, you will see some Ogoh-Ogohs in Bypass Sanur, Renon, Lapangan Puputan Badung, etc.

          It’s a bit hyperbolic if we say the amount is more than a hundred, ha ha. But yes, they are true, it means summing up the total Ogoh-ogoh from all of the Banjars.

          Anyway, the correct spelling is Calonarang 🙂
          I’ll drop you an email. I hope my answers won’t be disappointing.

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