Denpasar residents craft voice-activated ogoh-ogoh for Ngrupuk Parade

Ogoh-ogoh are demonic statues paraded on the eve of Nyepi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A group of tech-savvy Denpasar locals have bridged tradition with technology by creating a voice-activated ogoh-ogoh (demonic statue) for this year’s Ngrupuk Parade, which falls on Wednesday, the eve of Nyepi (Bali’s Silent Day).

Usually, the movement of ogoh-ogoh, which are often several meters high, is controlled manually by a team of men. But one clever community group from the village of Dauh Puri Kauh, West Denpasar, decided to save themselves some effort and install a voice command option.

Ngurah Tresna Adyana, the chairman of the village’s ogoh-ogoh committee, said that they had drawn inspiration from the mythical figure of Bima Baksa, a character from the great Hindu epic, The Mahābhārata.

“We were interested in channelling the Bima Baksa figure because of his loyalty to his teacher, [Rsi Drona]. Whatever the order, he continued to carry out the duties [set by] his teacher,” said Ngurah, as quoted by Kumparan.

On various commands, including ‘Hidupkan Bima [Turn on, Bima],’ the statue can move its head, circle its head, and complete full 360-degree turns. And remarkably, the villagers who created the sound sensors learned how to do it via YouTube.

According to a report by Kumparan, the 4.5-meter high ogoh-ogoh took about a month to make using materials like bamboo, wood and newspaper. The sculpture, which depicts Bima Baksa; his teacher, Rsi Drona; and the two giants Rukmuka and Rukmalaka, reportedly cost IDR36 million (US$2,544) to make.

The Ngrupuk Parade is the most raucous spectacle of the Balinese calendar and every year it seems the parade’s ogoh-ogoh get more creative. Freakish effigies made from papier-mâché and bamboo, Bali’s ogoh-ogoh represent the dark forces, or bhuta kala, and are paraded with much pomp and circumstance in order to shake up any nearby evil spirits.


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