The 17th of March was Nyepi here in Bali, a day of silence and reflection to mark the New Year. However, on the night before Nyepi it’s the annual New Year’s Eve bash on the streets of the island. This “New Year’s Eve” celebration is unique to Bali and the biggest annual celebration on the island. What makes this night so unique is the Ogoh Ogoh Parade. What is an Ogoh Ogoh you may ask? They are incredibly well crafted paper mache monsters which symbolize the demons of Hindu mythology.
We won’t go into major detail about the traditions of Nyepi here, more information can be found on Wikipedia. For more information on Ogoh Ogoh’s and what they symbolize it can also be found on Wikipedia.
The Ogoh Ogoh night is a major event in Bali every year and the scene of incredible street parties. Every community across the island builds their own intricate creations which they march down the streets in the evening in a large parade. The Ogoh Ogohs can range in size from one metre tall to massive creations more than 30 feet tall (or long). The vast majority of the Ogoh Ogoh night demons are based on Hindu mythological creatures, however, not all. Every year a few enterprising locals build their own politically inspired monsters representing a variety of issues. Heck, even a Donald Trump Ogoh Ogoh is fair game!
The Street Parade
The atmosphere of these parties is incredible. Even with thousands of people crowding the streets, there is no feeling of machismo in the crowds. Everyone is there to be friendly with their neighbours and hoot and holler all night long. Entire communities get together to parade their “monsters” down the road, from the youngest children to the elderly. Groups of boys as young as 6 or 7 carry their own small Ogohs down the road. While attempting to spin the floats around they often fall over and hoots of laughter are common from the crowd.
The parade goes on for most of the night and starts to wind up around 11pm. The key is to get home relatively quickly once the parade ends and the traffic thins out. Nyepi itself is the following day and this means getting home in time to turn off the lights! Nyepi is a unique day on the island with a focus on reflection and forgiveness. Lights, music, TV and other distractions are silent on this day, even the airport closes for 24 hours. The quiet stillness of the air with the occasional bark of a dog is very relaxing and peaceful. As long as there is no rain, the stars that show up at night are amazing as there is no artificial light pollution.
Enough description though, the only way to properly understand is to watch the spectacle on video. We have created a Vlog of the event on our YouTube Channel: Ogoh Ogoh Festival 2018
If you are coming to Bali for one of our Bali Safaris in March of any given year it may be possible to witness this great event in person.