On Monday night, the streets of villages and cities all over Bali were traversed by giant papier mache scary demons called ogoh-ogoh. In Bali’s capital Denpasar, where I was staying, the ogoh-ogoh parade was huge and went for hours and hours. It was such a big event that all the ogoh-ogohs didn’t even go on the same route… several mini-parades leading into the center of town to try (but ultimately fail) to limit congestion.
So what’s it all about? It’s part of the celebrations for Balinese Hindus to welcome the new year, and, well, there’s a few stories. Some say that the ogoh-ogoh are paraded and then burned to scare away demons from the island. The next day, on Nyepi, the day of silence to welcome the Saka New Year, if the demons and bad spirits come back to Bali, the island will be so quiet and dark that they will think it has been abandoned and leave again.
Other theories go that the ogoh-ogoh and offerings are actually gifts to bad spirits to appease them and honor them.
Heaps more pics, including some that are actually clear taken before sunset haha, after the jump…
In Denpasar, there was a competition for local youth to build ogoh-ogoh, and these were some of the early contestants. In some towns, they have a youth parade earlier in the night, but in Denpasar, it was all mixed in together… meaning you had huge demons carried by men, medium sized demons carried by teens, and little demons carried by kids groups, that were super cute haha.
The crowds were enthusiastically oooooooo-ing, awww-ing and boooo-ing the demons… some of the creations had spinning heads, glowing eyes and fireworks bursting out of their brains. There were depictions of the Ramayana as well as one that looked like a drunk Australian tourist…. it was a pretty amazing festival.
When held up on people’s shoulders, some of the ogoh-ogoh soared above the powerlines, meaning that they were accompanied by men with long bamboo poles who would lift up the powerlines over the ogoh-ogoh. I don’t know if it was exactly the safest strategy, but it seemed to work ok.
The kids were getting into the event the most, except one kid near me was scared of the ogoh-ogoh and was bawling… but most of them just seemed in awe.
One of the best ways to observe the chaos. Until the traffic came to a complete standstill not long after.