OGOH-OGOH Parade – Bali’s “New Years Eve”

The famous OGOH-OGOH parade is where Balinese men and boys parade large, mythological (mostly demonic) creatures through the streets on the eve of Nyepi.  This is known as Bali’s ‘New Year’s Eve” and is accompanied by much noise and gamelan music.

Ogoh ogoh is a kind of statue / giant doll which is made of light materials eg. combinations of wood, bamboo, paper, and styrofoam, so it is easy to be lifted and paraded. They are usually made by groups of village artists.

As with many creative endeavours based on Balinese Hinduism, the creation of Ogoh-ogoh represents spirituality inspired by Hindu philosophy.

An Ogoh-ogoh generally stands on a pad built of timber planks/bamboos. The pad is designed to sustain the Ogoh-ogoh while it is being lifted and carried around the village or the town square. There are normally eight or more men carrying the Ogoh-ogoh on their shoulders.

During the procession, the Ogoh-ogoh is rotated counter-clockwise three times. This act is done at every T-junction and crossroad. (Rotating the effigies is intended to bewilder the evil spirits so that they go away and cease harming human beings).

Tourists and visitors are welcome to watch the parades, take pictures and witness this unique spectacle. Some of these ogoh-ogohs are actually burnt after the parade as a symbol of self purification. A unique spectacle!

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A Day of Silence: Nyepi

Nyepi is a traditional “Day of Silence.”  It marks the Balinese New Year in the Hindu calendar. This is the Hindu New Year and like the christian Easter, the date changes annually – though it usually falls during March and April. The fundamental nature of Nyepi is to rid the Island of evil spirits, and renew both the environment and your individual philosophy.

On the eve of Nyepi, spectacular ceremonies, parades of great bamboo monsters and fireworks occur.   It is a wonderful celebration!

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The following day is Nyepi and is a day of silence and seclusion.  It is a time for self-reflection.

From 6am until 6am the following day, the island simply stops.  Lights must be kept low; no-one works so businesses are closed; there is no entertainment; no travelling; and even lovemaking is not supposed to occur.  The belief is that by doing this, the Gods will be fooled into believing the island is uninhabited and no evil spirits exist. Everything can then start afresh.

Out of respect , non-Hindu residents also observe this day of silence

Tourists too are not exempt.  Major hotels generally permit their guests use of their various facilities with the understanding that guests will not venture outside the property.   Even the staff will have to sleep over at the hotel that evening.

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A quiet peace reigns over Bali where the usually busy streets are empty, all is quiet and there are few signs of activity – even in homes.

As a tourist, Nyepi can be a wonderfully cathartic, therapeutic experience whereby you are forced to slow down.

NOTE:  Since the date of Nyepi is not set until late in the year prior, flights and accommodation may already be booked for travellers.  The airport is closed for the full 24hr period of Nyepi however!  This may necessitate some changes to existing bookings.

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