Bali Ogoh-Ogoh is very identical with Nyepi Day in Bali. It can be said that ogoh ogoh is the most interesting event among the series of Nyepi Ceremony. Ogoh ogoh are paraded in the Pengrupukan night, which is a day before the Saka New Year or so called Nyepi Day.
Ogoh ogoh is a kind of statue / giant doll which is made of light materials such as the combination of wood, bamboo, paper, and styrofoam so it is easy to be lifted and paraded. With the development or technology and materials, people prefer using styrofoam because of its lightweight and easiness to be carved and processed, but of course it costs more.
Ogoh-ogoh is made in form of Bhuta Kala or evil spirits and creatures who like to disturb human’s life. Bhuta Kala is usually symbolized as a giant creature / Rakshasa with scary and ferocious appearance. Bhuta Kala is the kind of evil creatures which possessed bad nature in them. In Hindu and Buddha mythology, it is said that the word “rakshasa” means “cruelty”, which is the opposite of the word “raksha” which means “tranquility”. By parading ogoh-ogoh and in the end burn or destroy it, it is expected that those vices could be kept away from human race.
Besides taking Rakshasa form, ogoh ogoh is also often symbolized in other forms such as mythological creature like Garuda, dragon, etcetera, and forms of God and Goddess like God Siwa, Ganesha, or Durgha. Nowadays, there are even ogoh ogoh portraying famous people, celebrities, or villains. Despite of entertaining, actually this thing is a bit deviated from the concept of ogoh ogoh which should show mythological evil creatures. However, some artists who created this kind of ogoh-ogoh argued that now people also have dominated by evil spirit and have done so many bad things such as terrorist or corruptor. They think that those vices must also be destroyed and kept away from human.
In Balinese philosophy, there is a balance of positive and negative energies. In other words, and perhaps surprisingly, good cannot triumph over evil and vice versa. However, the Balinese culture consists of many rituals and ceremonies that attempt to cleanse (i.e. balance) us of our negative energies. Just like most people want to take a shower and put on their best-pressed outfit before going out on the town, the Balinese will follow a similar process before the special New Year day of Nyepi. But there is a twist, the Balinese will “primp” themselves on the inside rather than primping themselves on the outside. In Balinese philosophy there is a balance of positive and negative energies.
Continuing with the analogy, in order for us to be ready for that exciting night out on the town, our body and clothes should be clean, right? One would certainly hope so. Think of your banal laundry day as a the day your dirty clothes get purified (happy laundry day!). So, what is the equivalent to washing ourselves on the inside? Like most ancient traditions, the main tools for internal purification are: meditation and fasting. Hence, another name for Nyepi is the “Day of Introspection.”
We can look at the Balinese New Year purification process as a two-step process. First step (external cleansing) includes the Melasti ceremonies at the beaches and the boisterous, festive Ogoh-ogoh parade (kinda like beating our clothes in the washer). Both are one-of-kind and viscerally amazing experiences not to be missed. Second step, an internal, very quiet, day of fasting and meditation (letting our clothes dry on a rack down in the basement with the lights off).
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