Ogoh-Ogoh Giant Puppet Parade – Bali New Year 2017

Ogoh-Ogoh and the infamous monster parade of Ngrupuk (Pengerupukan) in Bali on the Eve of the Hindu New Year (Nyepi) is rapidly approaching hence this is an apt article although it relates to the Ogoh-Ogoh Festival of march 2016.

gamelan musicians play at ngrupuk parade
Gamelan musicians play music at Ngrupuk Parade
The build up to the legendary Ngrupuk Parade of Ogoh-Ogoh which is the parading of these giant styrofoam or papier mache monster statues on Balinese New Years Eve is a spectacle not to be missed for anybody who happens to be in Bali at the time. Festival Dates for 2017 are as follows
Bali Events Before and After Nyepi 2017

  • 27th March 2017 –       Pengerupukan (Ngrupuk Parade of Ogoh-Ogoh on New Years Eve)
  • 28th March 2017 –       Nyepi (New Years Day – The Day of Silence)
  • 29th March 2017 –       Gembak Geni (Day after Nyepi)
  • 29th March 2017 –       Omed-Omedan (Festival of Kisses)
  • 4th – 6th April 2017 –  Galungan (Offerings and Prayers at Shrines and Temples)
  • 15th April 2017 –          Kuningan (10 days after Galungan – Offerings and Prayers)
fancy dress people at ngrupuk parade stock photo
Fancy dress costumes at Ngrupuk Parade
The run up to the Balinese New Year (Nyepi) festivities regarding the Ogoh-Ogoh portion of events starts at least a month before the Ngrupuk Parade. Which sees small villages, towns and cities around this Paradise Island begin preparations by undertaking (quite literally) monster constructions of the giant Ogoh-Ogoh Puppets or Statues which have become so synonymous with the event, its not something that happens overnight!
hindu ogoh-ogoh deity stock photo
Huge Hindu Deity in the form of a Blue Ogoh-Ogoh
Well before the Balinese New Year one can see these epic statues being constructed at Hindu Temples (Pura) around the Island due to the highly significant religious connotations. This is after all a Religious Festival in the Balinese Saka Calendar. The Saka New Year.
Scaffolding construction frames are erected from steel or traditionally bamboo from which local people can work from due to the sheer size of these things although the final result has to be as light weight as possible as these giant Ogoh-Ogoh statues will be carried by a number of men during the parade and spun around to ward off evil spirits for the coming New Year.
ogoh-ogoh satanic face stock photo
Scary Face of Ogoh-Ogoh
Ogoh-Ogoh statues are usually constructed from styrofoam as this is an extremely light material which is ideal for the guys who have to carry these giant mythological model beasts through the streets during the Nrgupuk Parade (Pengerupukan) but traditionally they have always been made with bamboo, wood and papier mache. Although what happened in 2016 was a call from the powers that be (Denpasar City Cultural Office) to revert to the traditional methods as styrofoam isn’t environmentally friendly and it had been mentioned about prohibiting the use of styrofoam in 2017.
It seems that this will be in effect judging by this article in the Bali Tribune. This will certainly be true for those wishing to partake in the competition and rating system they have in Denpasar where judges decide through the process of selection, the best of the best Ogoh-Ogoh statues from the many submitted and the winners will go through to the Denpasar City Penegrupukan Parade which is held in Puputan Park on the 27th March 2017. Whether the prohibition on using styrofoam will apply to or have far reaching effects on smaller towns and villages is yet to be seen.
ogoh-ogoh under construction stock photo
Ogoh-Ogoh under construction in Munggu Village
pink ogoh-ogoh under construction stock photo
Pink Ogoh-Ogoh under construction in Tabanan, Bali
The forms are many and varied and only the imagination of the talented artists who create these huge models could be a restricting factor, fortunately the artists imagination is brilliant. The Ogoh-Ogoh models are a true work of art, handcrafted by a team of dedicated and highly competitive artists.
spray painting ogoh-ogoh stock photo
Spray painting Ogoh-Ogoh head

Origins of Ogoh-Ogoh

The name Ogoh-Ogoh is a corruption of the Balinese Ogah-Ogah meaning something which is shaken and refers to the motion displayed when the statues are on parade and being shaken and rotated to ward off evil spirits. The forms of Ogoh-Ogoh represent the Bhuta-Kala, Bhuta (eternal energy), Kala (eternal time), according to Hindu teachings.
The present day Ogoh-Ogoh and the Ngrupuk Parade was conceived back in 1983 as a government sponsored event which continues to this day but the true origin is unfortunately lost in the sands of time.
miniature ogoh-ogoh puppets stock photo
Miniature Ogoh-Ogoh Puppets for sale

Description of Ogoh-Ogoh

The significance of Ogoh-Ogoh relates to the power of good and evil and so they usually take on the form of a ferocious demon such as a Rakshasa (evil deity) in Hindu mythology. Depicted having claw-like fingernails, two fangs and flaming hair with an insatiable desire for blood and human flesh with magical powers giving them the ability to fly or even vanish at will, these mythical creatures are also seen in the form of Gods and Goddesses, Garuda, Dragons and so on.

balinese women carrying ceremonial offerings
Balinese women carrying offerings at Ngrupuk Parade

Significance of Ogoh-Ogoh

These giant Ogoh-Ogoh demons or Rakshasa are symbolic and created for the purification of the natural environment of any spiritual pollutants created by the activities of mankind. At the Ngrupuk Parade these are supported on a grid of Bamboo poles which gives ample space for the men who carry them around the village or town to spin them counter clockwise three times which is intended to bewilder the evil spirits and scare them off and dispel all evil for the coming New Year.

ogoh-ogoh street festival parade stock photo
Ngrupuk Parade – Party on the Streets

Recommended places to see the Ogoh-Ogoh Festival

  • The Ogoh-Ogoh Festival will be held in Puputan Park, Denpasar during late afternoon and onwards where one will be able to see these fantastical creations paraded around in daylight as well as during the evening.
  • Munggu Village in Badung Regency have a superb evening event which starts just after sunset where one can see at least 12 Ogoh-Ogoh and upwards paraded through the village amidst a procession of traditionally dressed Balinese men, women and children, with flaming torches, banners and flags to the beat of Gamelan Music which culminates at the junction on Jalan Tanah Lot (Jl. By Pass Tanah Lot) where the spinning and shaking of the Ogoh-Ogoh demons takes place before a crowd of ecstatic spectators, this eventually ends at the sports field where the Ogoh-Ogoh are judged and a winner of this sensational Bali Event is chosen.

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