Ogoh-ogoh: The Spectacular Balinese Parade to Welcome the New Year

If you’re ever in Bali during the days leading up to the Balinese New Year, you may witness one of the island’s most spectacular and colorful traditions: the ogoh-ogoh parade. This annual event involves the creation and procession of giant, intricately crafted effigies that symbolize the negative forces and evil spirits that must be purged before the start of the new year.

The ogoh-ogoh parade is held on the night of the last day of the Balinese lunar calendar, also known as Pengerupukan (falls on March 21, 2023). In Balinese Hinduism, this day is considered the time when the universe is in a state of chaos, and the spirits of demons and negative forces are believed to roam freely. To ward off these malevolent entities and restore order, the Balinese build ogoh-ogoh effigies, which represent these negative forces, and parade them around the village.

The process of building an ogoh-ogoh is a collaborative effort that involves the entire village community. Months before the parade, artisans and craftsmen begin to create these giant figures out of bamboo, paper, and other materials. Each ogoh-ogoh is designed with intricate details, ranging from fierce demon faces to serpents, dragons, and other mythical creatures.

The night of the parade, each village brings out its own ogoh-ogoh, accompanied by gamelan music, dancing, and chanting. The effigies are paraded through the village streets, and the community comes out to watch and participate. The atmosphere is electric, with the sounds of gamelan music and the cheers of the crowds filling the air.

Once the parade is over, the ogoh-ogoh are ceremoniously burned, symbolizing the destruction of negative forces and the renewal of life. The ashes from the burning are spread in the rice fields to bless the land and ensure a bountiful harvest.

The ogoh-ogoh parade is not just a religious ritual, but also a celebration of Balinese art and culture. It is a time for the community to come together, showcase their creativity, and reinforce their bonds with each other and with their ancestors.

If you’re planning a trip to Bali, make sure to check out the ogoh-ogoh parade and witness this incredible spectacle firsthand. You’ll be treated to an unforgettable experience that will leave you with a newfound appreciation for Balinese culture and traditions.