Due to a different calendar system used in Bali, in 2019 the Hindu New Year’s Eve took place on the 7th of March. For a foreigner being in Bali this time of the year can be an immersive experience, as various rituals and celebrations are part of this unique holiday. According to the Saka Calendar 7th of March was the beginning of 1941.

If you have never heard of Ogoh Ogoh or Nyepi Day, this is the perfect chance for you to find out something really exciting about a different culture.

Colourful scary Ogoh Ogoh doll in Bali

Ogoh Ogoh Parade

Ogoh Ogohs are giant monster dolls made of a combination of paper, bamboo, wood and styrofoam. They are placed and carried on bamboo platforms through the parade. Usually the older men carry the Ogoh Ogohs, while the youth is playing music, using drums and gongs as the main instruments.

The name Ogoh Ogoh was taken from the word “ogah-ogah” which means “shaken”. When the locals are roaming through the streets with the huge monsters, they shake them to make them look alive. Ogoh Ogohs are created to look like mythological, evil spirits.

Balinese people believe that evil spirits move into the scary monster, so after the parade is over, they burn the dolls. This is a significant act of cleaning the island from bad spirits and getting ready for the celebration of the Silent Day.

Colourful scary Ogoh Ogoh doll in Bali

What is Nyepi Day?

Nyepi Day or Silent Day is basically the Hindu New Year’s Day. The Hindus of Bali don’t celebrate this day with expensive fancy parties, Nyepi is a day of silence, meditation and fasting for the locals. They believe that remaining in complete silence for a day will trick the unholy demons and evil spirits into thinking that the island is uninhabited, and it will make them leave.

What happens on Nyepi day?

Although as a tourist you don’t have to follow the exact way Balinese people celebrate Nyepi, there are certain regulations that apply to everybody:

Balinese women in traditional clothing in front of a temple on scooter
  • The silence starts around 6 AM in the morning and lasts for the next 24 hours.
  • Shops, banks, bars, restaurants are closed, even ATMs are shut down.
  • The internet is cut off for the whole day.
  • No traffic in the island, even the airport is closed.
  • No travelling on Nyepi Day.
  • It is prohibited to go out, locals are not allowed to leave their house, guests have to stay inside the resort area or guesthouse.
  • No light, music, fire or TV. In resorts, villas and guesthouses the sound of electronic devices must be kept at minimum level.
  • At night you have to keep the lights low and close the curtains to make sure no light gets out.
  • The only activities happen in emergency rooms and maternity sections of hospitals.
  • Local police patrols are on the streets making sure the rules of Silent Day are respected by everyone.

The day after Nyepi

Also called Ngembak Geni (Relighting the Fire), one day after Nyepi the Balinese people gather to ask forgiveness from each other. They perform rituals, also electricity, fire and cooking is allowed again.

To sum up how amazing it was to experience this unique holiday, let us share with you a short video of the Ogoh Ogoh Parade in Ubud:

Words by Ágota
Pictures by Loránd

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