If you’re in Bali, you might have seen a lot of Balinese gather together at Banjar (neighborhood) building creating something huge that resembles a form of a giant doll. About a month before Balinese New Year, Nyepi, the Balinese youth get together and build Ogoh-ogoh.
This year, Nyepi falls on Wednesday, March 25. So it’s only three weeks to go and each Banjar is in the competition of making the biggest, heaviest, and scariest looking Ogoh-ogoh!
TW: This article contains images that some may find disturbing.
What is Ogoh-ogoh anyway?
Ogoh-ogoh are giant monster dolls made of various materials such as bamboo, wood, paper, and they even made of Styrofoam in the past (now it’s already prohibited). Ogoh-ogoh represent the form of underworld creature known as Bhutakala, or the evil spirits according to Hindu teachings.
The name Ogoh-ogoh is derived from the Balinese ‘ogah-ogah’ means ‘to shake’. Locals from every community in Bali will carry Ogoh-ogoh on bamboo platforms throughout the parade and shaking it to make it look like it’s alive 🕺
Pic cr: tirto.id
The day before Nyepi 🙏
The night before Nyepi is one of the most special nights in Bali because there will be Ngrupuk-ngrupukan, or also known as the Ogoh-ogoh parade. The main roads will be closed and thousands of people gather to watch the parade. At the end of the parade, the gigantic Ogoh-ogoh will be burned to ashes ceremonially.
Also, in the day time, they have the Tawur Kesanga ceremony – when Balinese give offerings to appease demons and lesser spirits. Balinese don’t want evil spirits to disturb them during their silence day. Some Balinese also believe that if they make a lot of noises the day before Nyepi, the demons and bad spirits will leave Bali. Smart move! 👏
Pic cr: bisniswisata.co.id
History of Ogoh-ogoh
The first ogoh-ogoh was made when the first president of Indonesia, Soekarno, made Nyepi as a national holiday in 1983. It’s said that the first person to make them is I Made Jayadi at Kesiman, Denpasar. The form of Jayadi’s Ogoh-ogoh is still simple – it made of young leaves of the palm tree with a mask 👺 Another version said that Ogoh-ogoh has been known since the era of Dalem Balingkang where Ogoh-ogoh were used in the Pitra Yadnya ceremony to give respect for ancestors.
Back then in the early 80s, it was only Ogoh-ogoh which were paraded on the streets on the day before Nyepi. These days, they are often accompanied by drama and dance performances put on by the local youth that march along with the procession 🎭
Pic cr: metrobali.com
Hatch, V. (2010). What are ogoh-ogoh? Balinese Gamelan & Dance | Mekar Bhuana. Retrieved from https://www.balimusicanddance.com/articles/what-are-ogoh-ogoh.html
Ogoh-ogoh: The night before Nyepi; the Balinese New Year. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://volunteerprogramsbali.org/ogoh-ogoh/
Pic cr: denpasarkota.go.id