Mar 06

The Melting Man - Ogoh Ogoh of a different kind in Bali 2008I wrote last year about the colorful creations called Ogoh-Ogoh, which are paraded just before the begin of the Hindu New Year in Bali. This year was even more crazy. I’ve never seen so many quality monsters in one place.

The rainy season is almost over and for the Hindus, the New Year is about to start. A whole week of processions, ceremonies, celebrations, fireworks and parties.

What’s an Ogoh-Ogoh?

Ogoh-Ogoh are manifestations of the good and bad ghosts and spirits from last year. Before Nyepi they are constructed by the local youngsters and kids in the villages out of paper mache and bamboo. Today – close to sun set – they were paraded through the streets, shown off for a last dance – before they are destroyed or burned during the night. This way the Balinese hope to drive out the evil spirits and sins of last year.Shiwa the Destroyer - Ogoh-Ogoh in Bali 2008

Usually the Ogoh-Ogoh portray figures from the Hindu Epics ‘Ramayana‘ and ‘Mahabrabata‘, like Shiwa the Destroyer, the deities Rama or Vishnu – but in recent years you could see more and more creative interpretations, even local celebrities, politicians or other public figures are portrayed in a funny or scary way. You can even see Punks, Movie Stars with Beer bottles in their hands or even Ogoh Ogoh on motorbikes.

Keep you in the dark

Tomorrow is the ‘Silent Day’, when no lights and loud music are allowed. In some districts even the electricity is completely switched off. The ‘Silent Day’ is carefully enforced by the local village police (the Pecalang) who patrol around and know at doors to remind the people to stay quiet and switch off their lights.

Tomorrow night the whole island should be dark and quiet, so that the new ghosts and spirits will think that Bali is completely uninhabited. They will probably give the island a miss and will land somewhere else.

Hanuman the Monkey God - Aid of Rama, Ogoh-Ogoh in Bali 2008There are a few exceptions in the touristy areas, namely Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Nusa Dua – but then: the tourists will surely go home soon and take the evil spirits with them, just simply leave the money here. ;-)

While it’s certainly a bit strange or even uncomfortable feeling for some tourists to be restricted in their usual partying and lose behavior, it has its good sides too. It will be a quiet and peaceful day, time for personal thoughts, rethinking of the last year, the life lessons learned and making plans or resolutions, as in good intentions, for the new one.

Preparations and shopping spree

The last 2 days here were already mayhem in the streets and supermarket. Traffic more than usual – as everyone tried to stock up on rice, meat, veggies and above all Beer Bintang and Arak, the local rice brew. It seemed like the 3rd World War was coming and some supermarkets were out of stock of daily food items, Gas Stations already out of Gas in the afternoon or closed down.The Village Youngsters showing of proudly their Ogoh-Ogoh (2008)

People will gather tomorrow with their families or in friend’s homes and cook together, chit-chat and gossip or simply accompany each other to not be left alone and scared in the dark.

Isn’t that a great way to assure family and friendship values and strengthen the ties with the people who you care most for? It’s time to forgive bad deeds and make peace with your past, so you can enjoy the future in a pure and delighted way.

Latest Ogoh-Ogoh Pictures and Videos:

Check out my gallery of about 100 pictures with Ogoh-Ogoh from today here.

I will upload a few Videos to YouTube as well, so you can hear the drums and see the masses of people on the roads and streets. Check them out later here.


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written by Chris



15 Responses to “It’s Ogoh-Ogoh time again! The Hindu New Year (Nyepi) Celebrations in Bali”

  1. Jen / domestikaNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you mentioned your YouTube page – I had missed that, somehow! Fortunately, my little obsession with the Ogoh-Ogoh monsters came to the rescue… Still deep in a very harsh winter, here in Canada, so I’m going to really enjoy a bit of virtual travelling to Bali right now! :)

  2. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Jen / domestika – I know, have to upload the videos as well, currently my internet connection isn’t working so well here. So far there are only about 15 older ones. But I will try to put those up within the next few days. They are very short though, so don’t expect too much. ;-)

  3. Jen / domestikaNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Didn’t mean to nag you, Chris! ;-) I hadn’t even seen your older videos yet, so that should keep me going for a bit…

  4. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Thanks for stopping by though! :D

  5. SEOContest2008No Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hi Chris how are you.. long time iam not put my comment here.. lol

    Maybe you want to check another photos about ogoh2 that i taken on Ubud ogoh-ogoh festival..

    http://www.dexno.com/curhat/selamat-hari-raya-nyepi-caka-1930.html

    Iam haven’t get enough pictures because iam one of the ogoh-ogoh participant.. so i take the pictures when i got time to take that.. :mrgreen:

  6. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Hey Dexno – long time no see! A friendly “Welcome back” to you! And yep, I checked out your photos. Guess I have to travel more to Ubud as well. I’m usually just more the ocean-lover-kind-of-guy. ;-)

    Ah yes, Jen / domestika and all others who looked for it: I couldn’t upload the Videos yet. YouTube changed their Uploader to a Ajax-Thingy and it simply doesn’t work here. The old basic Uploader – which always worked flawless for me – is gone. The new Uploader tries to get the Video, but times out after 5-10 minutes without result. I wish they left the link to the old one somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. Strange thing! Still trying to get ’em up somehow. :(

    Update: found out that they offer a new Mass Uploader now as well. It seems to work….uploading…..done! :D

  7. Travel BettyNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    I wish I could have been around to celebrate. I love the idea of being so quiet the evil spirits get confused and think Bali is deserted. Perhaps I’ll have to make plans to return for next year! Think you’ll still be around? ;-)

  8. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Not sure Travel Betty. The plan was actually to move someplace else in Asia around September/October, probably Philippines or Vietnam. But no worries – we will catch up again! ;-)

  9. bali tourNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    well..nice blog, just drop to say hello……I was at the crowd during Ogoh-ogoh parade..hopefully we see more idea and creativity next year !!! CHEERS

  10. JoshNo Gravatar REPUBLIC OF KOREA Says:

    Chris, I just started researching Bali and happened upon your blog. Thanks for the useful information. I am currently teaching in Korea, but am saving for an extended trip to Bali starting September. Looks amazing! How long do you plan on staying? Thanks again.

  11. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Currently it looks like September/October this year we’re moving on. But nothing is fixed yet…

  12. Living the Good Life in Bali - a Wrap up after 2 Years | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] music, mystic plays, listen to drums and watch fire dances, watch the diverse ethnic cultures, creatures, dresses and ceremonies. Free your body, minds and spirit – […]

  13. Bali ToursNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    cool, but on this year 2009, there are no ogoh ogoh festival in bali.

  14. ChrisNo Gravatar GERMANY Says:

    How come, Bali Tours? What happened to the Ogoh Ogoh parade this year?

  15. AriNo Gravatar POLAND Says:

    Last year it was banned due to the national election. But…. I heard the Denpasar Major made Ogoh-ogoh competition this year, looks like it will be big, wish I were in Bali for it :p

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