The Jakarta Post
An island-wide ritual to ward off demons will take place on Friday.
It was almost midnight, yet the streets around Tainsiat traditional community hall in downtown Denpasar were still packed with people.
A large group stood outside the hall, watching attentively as scores of local youth worked hard to finish the ogoh-ogoh (a giant effigies).
Meanwhile, another group of youth — sitting near an intersection close to the hall — rehearsed the gamelan scores they would perform to escort the ogoh-ogoh at the upcoming street parade. The loud melodies of gamelan and the sound of people chatting to each other made the usually quiet night livelier, which made several passing motorists stop and join the crowd.
In the last few years, the ogoh-ogoh of Tainsiat had always been the talk of the town due to its astounding beauty and captivating theme.
The man behind the ascent of Tainsiat as the neighborhood with the city’s most gorgeous ogoh-ogoh is Kedux, a famed motorcycle builder who always shuts his garage to design and create ogoh-ogoh for his neighborhood.
Last year, his creation awed city residents so much that it inspired many youth organizations to borrow its visual elements for their own ogoh-ogoh.
Named Sampian Mas, it was in the shape of a giant female demon with a long fiery tongue and three-tiered circular shields over her head obviously inspired by sampian mas (golden shield), the level of achievement in Balinese “black magic” called leak when practitioners transform their bodies into terrifying creatures and beasts.
This year, Kedux once again drew his inspiration from leak, designing an ogoh-ogoh in the shape of Ratu Sumedang, a mighty supernatural creature with elaborately decorated headgear and robe.
The ogoh-ogoh hides a refreshing surprise: a motorized skeleton and joints that enables it to move and squat.
“It is our way to deal with electricity and phone cables that dangle across the streets at several points along the route,” Kedux said on Wednesday.
Ogoh-ogoh is the centerpiece of Ngerupuk, an island-wide street parade held on the eve of Nyepi, the Day of Silence that marks the arrival of the new Saka lunar year.
This year, Nyepi will fall on Saturday and the youth of Tainsiat are racing time to complete their ogoh-ogoh before Friday’s parade.
“No worries, we will finish it on time. We only need a constant supply of energy drinks to sustain us through these sleepless nights,” Kedux said.
More than 7,000 ogoh-ogoh will be paraded along the main streets of villages and cities during this year’s Ngerupuk.
Denpasar alone will see more than 1,000 ogoh-ogoh during the boisterous parade.
In days gone by, Ngerupuk — which aims to scare away demons and evil spirits — was a much simpler affair, involving groups of youth carrying bamboo torches and using percussion instruments in a parade around their respective villages.
Ogoh-ogoh first made its entrance in the 1980s and soon became a permanent fixture of the ever-growing spectacle. They are primarily demon symbols and are set ablaze in the local cemetery at the end of the parade.
The bright and boisterous street parade will usher the island into complete silence and total darkness for Nyepi the following day, when for one single day Bali will come to a standstill.
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