Ogagh /Nyepi in Bali


Back in contact. I feel like an astronaut who has just come out of radio silence while circling the moon.

Myself and some friends checked out the Ogagh Ogagh parade in Seminyak at Jl Legian / Dhyana Pura on the night of April 1st, which was more mellow than down in Kuta Square.

The Seminyak parade has 5 or 6 Ogagh Ogaghs ( monsters 20 feet high ) and they paraded past a judging table. There was only one Gamelan orchestra for the whole parade and so each group got the same music. Plenty of expats and other foreigners on display in their ‘I want to be Balinese’ outfits.

The point of the monsters is to scare evil spirits away from the village / town so although scary looking they are actually on our side. Evil spirits are supposed to hover about Bali and the following day called Nyepi people stay inside, do not turn on lights or make noise hoping the spirits will think no one’s in and move on.

We took the bypass down from Seminyak and then a bunch of alleys to Jl.Legian close to Kuta Square. During Ogagh Ogagh the major roads are often blocked and traffic re routed to make room for parade preparations. Having motorbike means you can use alleys ( gangs ) and still get where you want to.

When we arrived it was packed and the atmosphere was fun. It was pretty hot because of all the people and the humidity was almost at 100% as it rained a couple of hours later. People were laughing at some of the ogagh ogaghs and cheering when the carriers tilted the platform making the monster lean and sway. Families were out and small kids looked on with wonder. It occured to me how funny this whole thing is that in a traditional culture you have a panel of stern faced judges awarding marks for the best monster. Most of them have dangly fingers with shiny nails and these move eerily.
Most of the monsters had a definite hindu flavour and some were cleverly adapted including one on a surfboard and another doing a wheelie on a bright green Vespa.

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Everyone howled with laughter when the little figure fell off the platform and had to be held aloft by members of the crowd.

The very last float of the night tilted and tipped off its platform being carried horizontally off the square by its handlers. Very funny indeed.

Many of the shops were closed but the small convienience stores were doing a fine trade in drinks. Yumi told me several places were open for food.

Nyepi day passed quickly for me, alone in the house by myself. I read part of a Pete McCarthy book and browsed others. Sean installed pinball on the computer and I’m trying to break his high score ( Sean you’re still king ).

Here at the house I taped towels and t-shirts over all the windows and bought some food to cook ( Chris will be proud of me, one of the items is Vegemite ). It was cool to cook my own stuff for a change. Hope the local banjar didn’t mind a tiny amount of light from the kitchen. This was my first opportunity to do some home cooking and it went pretty well. I dragged in one of the chairs and the table, pretty comfortable.

Nyepi day was overcast and seemed like a low energy day anyway.