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Bali is host to a number of religious ceremonies aimed at celebrating the cultural and religious beliefs native to the island, as it forms an integral part of what Bali is about. The local gods and deities are said to cast a strong influence over the life in Bali, and these deities are associated with both positive or godly energies and negative or malicious energies, and the festivals in Bali are aimed at maintaining a harmonic balance between these positive and negative energies that always co-exist by inherent nature of creation.
The Ogoh Ogoh parade, also known as the Ngrupuk parade, is one of the ceremonies in Bali that are aimed at appeasing the malicious or demonic deities of Bali to calm them down, a day before the Balinese New Year commences. This is to help ensure the new year is full of positivity, by satisfying the demons of Bali enough for them to not bother with the land and people of Bali for the entire upcoming year.
The Ogoh Ogoh parade is one of the most important festivities in Bali with maximum participation from the Balinese locals. It is celebrated according to Hindu beliefs and the Balinese calendar.
The Ogoh Ogoh parade is held on the eve of Balinese New Year (Nyepi Day). Since the Balinese calendar is 210 days long, the Ogoh Ogoh parade happens every 210 days. The local name of the actual parade is Ngrupuk parade or Ngrupuk Ngrupukan, and Ogog Ogoh is just the name given to the giant doll-like figurines made specially for the occasion to be paraded. The next upcoming Ogoh Ogoh parade is scheduled to be held on March 13, 2021.
Timings: The Ogoh Ogoh parade commences around the evening of Balinese New Year’s eve, and lasts till around 2 am or 3 am of the night.
The Ogoh Ogoh parade is organized by each and every banjar of Bali. Banjar is the name given to a group of surrounding villages and towns in Bali, and the Ogoh Ogoh parade for every bajar passes through the streets of each of these villages.
Community people gather round the parade and make loud noises as the parade passes from in front of their houses. In addition, tourists either watch the parade from viewing decks of their hotels or if they are adventurous enough they move outside and participate in the celebrations amidst the noisy and bustling atmosphere surrounding the Ogoh Ogoh parade.
Ogoh Ogoh are large-sized dolls to simulate and represent malicious or demonic figures from Balinese lores. In a figurative way, they symbolize the vices that are present by inherent nature in human character and in society at society at large.
Ogoh Ogoh dolls always look monstrous in nature, and they are supposed to be representations of manifestations of demons and monsters, which are known as Bhuta Kala locally in Bali. In a less literal and more figurative sense, they are meant to be a presentation of the vices that we all have, that are an inherent part of human nature. Therefore, it can be said that Ogoh Ogoh are the monstrous aspects of human nature, and the Ogoh Ogoh dolls do look human-like yet are monsters.
In modern times, some people have started making Ogoh Ogoh dolls after popular villains in fiction, such as characters from TV and books. Some of these may be made to look like they are holding bottles of Balinese beer, etc. Even though some argue that these are not the original or true Ogoh Ogoh, the proponents of this practice claim that such characters are very accurate and very specific representations of human vices and so they serve the purpose well and in its true essence.
The Ogoh Ogoh are made of materials like wood remains, bamboo pieces and paper. Nowadays, styrofoam tends to be used as well. Even though styrofoam-made ogoh ogoh dolls tend to be more expensive, they are fast gaining popularity because they are lightweight and therefore easy to carry around and move during the Ogoh Ogoh parade. The finishing is done using plaster and then the Ogoh Ogoh are painted. These preparations commence several days before the Ogoh Ogoh parade dates.
The practice of the Ogoh Ogoh parade came about only as recently as in the 1980s. It started as an amalgamation of different Hindu beliefs and practices, blending them all into the native culture and traditions of Bali.
Every banjar in Bali, which is equivalent to a district made up of neighboring villages, holds its own Ogoh Ogoh parade. The Ogoh Ogoh parade passes through each and every village and through the streets of Bali, and people gather round and make a lot of noises as part of the Ogoh Ogoh celebrations.
The noisy nature of the Ogoh Ogoh parade is intended to appease the demonic deities from Balinese culture. In a figurative way, this practice is equivalent to trying to keep people’s human vices from acting out throughout the new year, and manifesting in their actions and in their lives and thereby dragging them down, by hopefully over-satiating them on the last day of the year. It is quite the parallel to the Western concept of partying hard on New Year’s eve then working hard in the new year.
The Balinese people are great believers in the concept of a balance between negative energies and positive energies. Therefore, by overindulging in negative energies on the day of the Ogoh Ogoh parade, the Balinese people hope to spread out the positive energies over the entire new year that commences on the following day.
Some people even believe that the noise made during the Ogoh Ogoh parade ceremonies serves to scare away the demonic spirits represented by the Ogoh Ogoh statues, for the entire duration of the upcoming year. This is the reason people in Bali often burn the Ogoh Ogoh dolls right after the parades is over.
Bali has a number of relatively cheap accommodations with pretty decent facilities for international tourists. This is done in order to promote tourism and showcase the exquisitely rich culture of Bali to the rest of the world. Accommodations exist in the form of shared lodging at homestays and also hotels with international-grade facilities on the offing.
Homestays: In case you wish to participate in or witness the making of the Ogoh Ogoh then homestays are the preferred choice. You will get to interact with the locals while watching closely how they work on the Ogoh Ogoh with intense dedication, excitement and fervor. Examples of such homestays are Damuh Guest House (INR 350-400/night), Timbis Homestay (INR 1,150/night) and Daun Lebar Villas (INR 3,300/night).
Hotels: Some of the best hotels to stay in Bali and catch the most glamorous views of the Ogoh Ogoh parade are Innah Bali Heritage Hotel (INR 1,000-2,500/night), Griya Santrian (INR 3,100-9,000/night) and Puri Santrian (~INR 5,000/night).
Some of the best places in Bali to watch the crackling and bustling Ogoh Ogoh parade are the restaurants of Bali. Here, you will be able to stay within the comfort and safety indoors along with fellow international tourists and service and food provided by the restaurant staff while you watch the glamorous and energetic Ogoh Ogoh parade pass by and locals participate in it actively. You may also choose to be present at one of the spacier plazas in Bali while the Ogoh Ogoh parade passes by the area.
Weather in Bali: The upcoming Ogoh Ogoh parade in Bali is going to be held on the evening of March 13, 2021, a day before Nyepi day or Balinese New Year. March is usually considered as the best time to visit Bali, as the weather in Bali during this time is very suitable. The rainy season has just ended, so humidity is low, while the summers haven’t properly begun,and temperatures are still not too warm. Weather in Bali is normally very warm and congested for most people, so this is an important factor in determining the best time to visit Bali.
Food in Bali: Bali is considered to be one of the best spots to enjoy the famed south-east Asian cuisine. However, specifically to Bali the food here is considered by many to be a blend of Indian taste and style into the south-east Asian cuisine.
Temples in Bali: There are a number of temples in Bali that are some of the most famous tourist attractions for Hindus and non-religious people alike from all over the world, thanks to their extensively rich architecture, breathtaking beauty and enthralling festivities and celebrations like odalan that take place here regularly. Some of the most notable temples in Bali include Tanah Lot, Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, Tirta Empul Temple and Besakih Temple.
Natural beauty of Bali: There are a number of places to visit in Bali whose natural beauty will leave you carried away and lost in the feel of Bali. These include the Sideman Valley with rice terrace fields, volcanoes which let out colored lava during times of activity and the glistening beaches in Bali with pure and pristine waters.
All in all, if you seek a boost of energy and enthusiasm, while attaining the purification that the Ogoh Ogoh parade is said to impart upon you, then the Ogoh Ogoh parade will surely be the best time to visit Bali for you, as you will also be able to get a broad array of overall experience on your trip. Your trip is sure to be one of the most exciting times you will recall even several years into your life, and will be a memory you will definitely want to keep, if not re-enliven by visiting Bali once again.