Bali gov’t gives go-ahead for Ogoh-Ogoh parades, but village leaders concerned about Omicron

Ogoh-ogoh statues made by different neighborhoods in South Bali’s Pecatu are lined up before the big parade on March 16, 2018. Photo: Jan Glenn/Coconuts Bali
Ogoh-ogoh statues made by different neighborhoods in South Bali’s Pecatu are lined up before the big parade on March 16, 2018. Photo: Jan Glenn/Coconuts Bali

The Bali Provincial Government has green-lit Ogoh-Ogoh parades to mark this year’s Nyepi (Balinese Day of Silence) following their absence throughout the pandemic, but village officials aren’t convinced about public safety due to the ongoing threat posed by Omicron.

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster has published a circular allowing the creation of the menacing-looking Ogoh-Ogoh effigies and parading them on the streets of Bali. The parades have become a modern tradition in the last few decades among Balinese youths as they compete to create the most magnificent models. 

But the tradition came to a screeching halt in the past couple of years as the provincial government enforced mobility restrictions on the island.

Despite the Ogoh-Ogoh go-ahead, traditional village leaders don’t seem to be convinced that the parades are worth sacrificing public health over. Leaders in Klungkung Regency have been the first to convene and issue an advisory against Ogoh-Ogoh as they expect cases from Omicron on the island to peak in February.

“To avoid this, it’s better that we prioritize the Yadnya ritual over Ogoh-Ogoh,” Klungkung Regency Traditional Village Leaders Council Head I Dewa Made Tirta said, referring to the Hindu offerings ceremony.

Leaders of other villages throughout Bali may issue similar advisories regarding Ogoh-Ogoh.

The Indonesian government has, indeed, warned of a rapid national caseload spike driven by the highly-contagious variant between February and March.

This year, Nyepi falls on March 3.

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