Well, it’s Nyepi day! The sun is setting on such a gorgeous day and unfortunately we’ve all had to forget about the beach and going for a walk to breathe in some more fresh air and enjoy the lovely cool breeze. The quiet has been nice, and even though we were supposed to refrain from using any electricity, the refrigerators needed to stay on to save on bad odours! Anyway I went to check out Ogoh-Ogoh yesterday. This is pretty much a parade that happens in the evening the day before Nyepi as part of the bad-spirit cleansing rituals. I thought it would just be a parade of floats and costumes on the main road, perhaps toward the sea where some ceremonies would take place. But actually the parade was more of a competition of floats and all the action happened at a stage set in the middle of a main road junction. It was interesting to see for a few hours and I realised Nyepi is kind of like Chinese New Year. I’m glad I got to experience this calendar event in the few months I’m staying in Bali; actually it’s like when I was in the Philippines for two months and there was a local festival on and we celebrated with suckling pig. I don’t remember what the event was exactly but I feel pretty lucky my stays seem to align with some sort of cultural celebration 🙂 . SO! How was Ogoh ogoh?
Endah came to meet me at 6pm and we headed toward the main junction together, passing by the line of floats which were getting ready for the show. They were all characterised by a giant demon-like, ferocious-looking creature which supposedly represents evil spirits. I learned that these figures is what ‘ogoh-ogoh’ refers to and apparently by parading the ogoh-ogoh and then burning it after, bad spirits can be kept away. Each float is made by a local community group / village and some were made by groups of children too! I was impressed by how tall some of them were and how they managed to keep a lot of them standing up on a thin fixture.
We eventually came to the T-junction where all the action was happening. Endah told me there were judges and each float would have the chance to perform and the best one wins! We weaved through the crowds and eventually found a place to stand where we could see what was happening in the middle. Not a bad view but man by back and legs were SUPER tired after 1.5 hours of standing! Plus there was this corn cob cart right behind us so we were inhaling the smoke the entire time basically.
It seemed each float was built on a pad of wooden planks and bamboos and they were carried by the men or children on their shoulders. The procession would involve them performing a series of turns with the float, rocking and shaking it vigorously as they go. From my understanding the judges were seeing whether the float would stay in tact as the crowds would laugh every time the creature fell forward or a head or limb fell off. It was quite entertaining to watch actually ha-ha, and it reminded me of halloween with how scary some of the ogoh-ogoh were! While they turned with the gloat, orchestral music would be playing by the youth.
There had to be over 50 floats and each performance went for a few minutes only. The MCing was all in balinese so I didn’t understanding what they were talking about but I got Endah to translate 😛 . This went on a for a while before they had a traditional dance performance. That went on forever as well and I was getting tired so we decided to walk around and find some bakso before heading home. Endah took me to a local place she knew and although the bakso was pretty average, the fried tofu/wontons we got with them were SO GOOD!!! I had to research this street food after because I’m definitely taking this recipe home. The filling is my favourite part – it’s stretchy, gel-like, and made of a minced fish meat filling. They call it BATAGOR BANDUNG! We only got the tofu and wontons on their own to eat with bakso but as a street food itself it’s normally served with spicy peanut sauce and kecap manis. YARRRRMMM!!!