Bali powered down for 24 hours this past weekend for Nyepi, the new year on the Balinese Hindu calendar, but things got loud and colorful with the Ngrupuk parade, before they fell silent.
The island’s streets lit up on Friday night as Balinese took to the streets to parade their Ogoh-ogoh, handmade floats depicting demons and evil spirits.
While commonly mistaken as an age-old tradition, it turns out Ngrupuk is more of a modern invention, widely believed to have come about in the 1980s.
Ogoh-ogoh are made by residents in each banjar across the island, the traditional Balinese neighborhood unit.
Things were lively as ever in Pecatu Village on the Bukit Peninsula for 1940 on the Balinese Saka calendar, with the community holding its annual competition for best ogoh-ogoh out of all the banjars in Pecatu.
Hundreds of people milled about and street vendors cooked up satay and served bowls of bakso (meatball soup) as each banjar gave a performance—some quite elaborate with traditional Balinese dancers and theatrics, before a panel of judges.
In Bali, it’s believed that evil spirts visit the earth every year, so that’s why Balinese must hide out inside, keep quiet, and refrain from using any lights on the new year, so the spirits can be tricked into thinking the island’s empty.
The Ogoh-ogoh are a depiction of the evil spirits. Some are even burned after Ngrupuk, but it depends on the banjar.
Nyepi kicked off the next morning, starting at 6am on Saturday, March 17 and finishing up at 6am on Sunday, March 18.