It’s this time in Bali again, the beginning of the New Year 1934 following the Hindu calendar.
This is celebrated with a parade of paper mache Ogoh-Ogoh monsters followed by a day of silence.
During Nyepi Day, noise and light pollution have to be avoided, to not make the monsters, demons and ghosts flying over the island to be alerted, so they can continue their journey towards other islands and not bring their evil to Bali’s inhabitants.
As every other year, for tourists and locals alike, the Ogoh-Ogoh parade is the hightlight of the Nyepi ceremonies and this year was no different. Maybe it was even more welcomed this year, as it was a bright, sunny day after weeks of rain during the end of the rainy season. And what nice Ogoh-Ogoh we could see this year!
The streets on the eve before Nyepi were filled with people, Ogoh-Ogoh were being carried from all Banjar areas towards the center of Denpasar (Lapangan Puputan Badung), where the annual Ogoh-Ogoh parade is held. On their way there, the sculptures are rotated at every junction or intersection as a form of purification and to confuse the spirits who try to possess and influence the bodies of the mortals.
This year it seemed, there was a refocussing on tradition and mythology, as most Ogoh-Ogoh I saw didn’t depict the more modern forms like rock stars, politicians and punks, but the characters of the Hindu Sanskrit epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Of course there were the occasional representations of bad influences in the eyes of the Balinese, like bare-breasted or beer-bottle-swinging tourists (‘Bule’) as Ogoh-Ogoh sculptures, rock punks or even the bicycling youth.
I also noticed that many traditional female Ogoh-Ogoh this year came with huge naked breasts.
All in all the celebrations were very colorful and even more playful, with firecrackers released until late into the night and Bali’s youth roaming the street until the early morning hours.
Maybe that was due to the latest successes averting evil and harm from the island. As you may have heard, just last week, Bali could avoid another chapter of tragedy, when 5 potential terrorists were apprehended and killed during their preparations for new attacks on Night Clubs, Resorts and Money Changers.
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