Ogoh Ogoh Parades - the evening before Silence Day

During Nyepi Eve, Bali’s streets will be filled with parades of the well-known Ogoh-Ogoh statues, accompanied by loud sounds and gamelan music. Get your cameras ready;  visitors and tourists are welcomed to observe and enjoy the magical creatures.

The Ogoh-Ogoh, usually made of some form of paper maché is put onto  a bamboo frame serving as the base. The young people of a “banjar” (local community) create these oversized statues in the likeness of demons, evil spirits, and other fantastical figures from Hindu mythology. Some statues are in reference to more current issues and might resemble real people known for cruelty, greed or injustice. As a symbol of all the bad things that might happen in life, the ogoh ogohs are  burnt afterwards to make room for the good energy that can bring humanity peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

The Ogoh-ogoh statues are a very important part of the Nyepi celebrations marking the start of the new year in the Balinese calendar. On the night before Nyepi, communities create and parade large, colorful Ogoh-ogoh statues through the streets. 

The Ogoh-ogoh statues represent demons and negative elements that are believed to threaten the balance of the universe. The parading and subsequent burning of the statues is believed to symbolize the banishment of these negative forces, and the purification of the community in preparation for the new year. Therefore the ogoh ogoh parades also represent the victory of good over evil, and the triumph of spiritual values over materialism. The parade and burning of the Ogoh-ogoh is a reminder to the Balinese people to always strive for spiritual balance and to avoid negative behaviors.

What happens at an Ogoh-Ogoh parade?

The Bhuta Yajna ceremony is held the night before Nyepi day and is the second ceremony of the Nyepi festival. The men of Bali use bamboo grids to support puppets that may be as tall as 30 feet as they make there way through the streets to the sound of gamelan music. The Balinese youth community, are building the statues, sometimes many months before the festival. It’s a vital part of the Balinese communities how to keep their traditions and rituals alive.

The Balinese bring torches to neutralize their houses and the area around them, make a commotion, and emit loud noises in preparation of the parade. At each intersection and crossroad in the village, the ogoh-ogoh is spun counterclockwise three times throughout the procession. In this way, the bad spirits will be thrown off guard and will no longer want to harm humanity.

The Balinese stop at graveyards to burn the statues at the end of the parade, thus the torch-bearing festivities lasts late into the night on the eve of Nyepi. 

Nyepi in Bali

Balinese New Year