Fate is a beautiful thing. The day that I decided that I had enough of Bali, was the day that everything came together finally. Don’t get me wrong I had tons of fun in Ubud but it seemed as though there was nothing else that I wanted to see. I mean once you’ve played with wild monkeys what else is there?? I mentioned to my host that I was planning to leave the next day to head to Java and you’d think he had a stroke. He was frantic and kept rambling about Nyepi and Ogoh-Ogohs. Once I managed to calm him down he explained.
Ogoh-Ogoh are statues built for the Ngrupuk parade, which takes place on the eve of Nyepi day. Ogoh-Ogoh normally have form of mythological beings, mostly demons.The main purpose of the making of Ogoh-Ogoh is the purification of the natural environment of any spiritual pollutants emitted from the activities of living beings (especially humans).
And this year Nyepi would fall on Saturday the 5th which meant that the parade would be the night before, only 2 days away. While toying around with wether to stay or not I went out to dinner at Nomad. There I was sat at the bar (again) such is the life of a traveling single. But at the bar I met Spencer and Trina both from the US! You really don’t manage to meet many people from the States much less people my age. Most of the time they’re much older traveling married couples (note to all my friends and family, it’s never to get out and see the world!) Anyways Spencer ended up being from D-town which was fabulous. Like having a bit of home dropped in the middle of Bali. At dinner I mentioned the festival to them and just like that I had peeps to play with for the rest of the week!
All week I had seen them being constructed on corners around town and in neighboring villages and now I FINALLY knew what they were! Ogoh-Ogohs! The day of the festival, in true Bali fashion, we had heard conflicting reports about times, places, everything. I truly believe that’s because they have no idea what’s going on and just don’t want to admit it. Spencer had just moved into my homestay the day before, so we set off on our own to figure out what was going on. Originally the word was that at 5 pm all the Ogoh-Ogohs would gather in the football field. So we stopped by our favorite café which had the benefit of being next to the field, free wifi and cheap beer. And we settled down to wait. After awhile about 6 had appeared on the field. But soon they were heading out toward the main temple. Not wanting to miss any of the fun we went to the temple. There some of the groups were gathering but then the announcer said the parade would start from the field. I kid you not, I think we walked back and forth between the field and the temple at least 5 times that day. We couldn’t figure out where to be or where the parade was or anything. We just laughed and kept walking back to where we had just been. Finally it seemed like there was progress, they were all making their way to the field. Yes!
We stood on the side of the street and watched all the Ogoh-Ogohs being paraded into the field. The way they carried each ogoh was ingenious. They simply made a huge grid of bamboo stalks, had a person stand in the middle of each square and carried it through town. A lot of the time they had little kids and the adults in charge would push and pull the square of them everywhere. It was hilarious and the kids had a blast. Some of the statues were HUGE and came with their own entrouage of pole carriers. These men were responsible for holding the power lines up so that they could pass through underneath. It was a massive production.
Once everyone was on the field, it was just like any town fair. You had kids running around with their faces painted. There were street vendors selling all kinds of food and balloons. This time allowed you to go around and see each Ogoh-Ogoh and take photos. I think every parade in the States should adopt this policy. It was great to be able to get up really close and get the shot you wanted.
The green monster became a mascot for us since the kids in our alley had been building him all week. Plus he’s green! My fav color. But by far my favorite was the King of the Cats. It was just a fabulous creation! Although the wolves came in a close second. A maybe the bloody mummy, which is fantastic because it was made by a school. Good to know children are bloodthirsty everywhere.
Soon it got dark and the parade began. Each Ogoh-Ogoh was called out by the announcer (at least that’s what it sounded like. I don’t speak Indonesian.) Now they pulled out all the stops. Most of them had added lights and effects that made the parade even more impressive after dark! We watched them all head off for the temple and then made a break from the crowds for dinner. But the best part came after.
On our way back home we noticed a bonfire being built in the field. In my research it said that they would burn the statues when done, but we had heard during the day they no longer we able. Major bummer since fire is awesome. But yes, look! They were stripping out the electronic parts of the main huge Ogoh-Ogoh with the dreadlocks! They were going to set him on fire! YES! We stood in the rain with a few other pyros and waited until he went up in flames. It was fast. And SUPER HOT. You really had to keep backing up to avoid getting singed. A perfect fiery end to a great day!