To Kill an Ogoh-ogoh

You would be forgiven for thinking that the entire Bali Island was celebrating a strange ritual – with monsters being paraded in the streets in the main villages of Kuta, Seminyak, Sanur or Nusa Due on 21st March this year. However, when one delves into the custom, the ritual makes sense.

Parading a monster and whirling it around several times, (and in some cases, burning it in the evening), represents getting rid of evil influences in your life. The monster or Ogoh-ogoh symbolises evil hence the scary look and its eventual destruction amid joyous celebration of dancing and partying.

But, there is also a deeper spiritual significa nce. According to Ayana Estate’s explanation, Nyepi Day is the Hindu New Yea r’s Day which is normally spent in quiet medita tion, fasting a nd reflecting on thepast yea r’s events. The celebrations stretch over six days – with Nyepi – the day of silence, constituting only one of six rituals.

Ayana Estate is one of the few or perhaps the only resort in Bali that celebrates the Nyepi on a grand scale with a huge Ogoh-ogoh (monster) being the centre of attention. Staff a nd guests a re invited to join in the pa rade. I was privileged to be among some of the guests witnessing this annual event.

According to Ayana’s description of Nyepi celebrations, different levels of sacrifice are held at villages and provinces by sacrificing a nimals such as chickens, ducks, pigs or even cows and bulls. Various plants and crops are additionally used as part of the offerings.

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