Ogoh-ogoh returns ahead of Nyepi tomorrow with COVID-themed effigies

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After a two-year absence due to the pandemic, ogoh-ogoh (demon-shaped statues built by Balinese people on the eve of Nyepi, or Day of Silence) are making a comeback. Some of these menacing-looking effigies are inspired by COVID-19, featuring masks and creative interpretations of the virus.

In Banjar Dama, a local community in Tibubeneng Village in Badung, a statue of Shiva, God of Destruction, is meditating before a round-shaped, green devil that represents the coronavirus (from afar, it looks like Mike Wazowski from Pixar’s Monster Inc.). A statue of a beautiful goddess (presumably Durga, Goddess of Protector) wearing a black mask is ‘flying’ in front of the COVID-19 monster.

In Banjar Dukuh in South Denpasar, a 4.5-meter tall spine-chilling black statue was built by the community’s youth group that represents chaos amid the pandemic. They reportedly used facial masks, charcoal, tree branches, old newspapers, and bamboo to make the model.

“The title [of the statue’s theme] is Gerubuk, [which means] pandemonium,” said Pageh Wedhanta, 23, the model’s architect.

This year marks the first time Balinese people are allowed by local authorities to include ogoh-ogoh as part of the Nyepi holiday festivities. 

Bali, Indonesia’s tourism hotspot, has been hampered by the ongoing pandemic due to prolonged social restrictions that prohibit large gatherings, including ogoh-ogoh parades. 

Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced on Feb. 17 that youth organizations (who are traditionally responsible for making ogoh-ogoh) are allowed to resume the tradition this year as long as they follow safety protocols. Those who parade ogoh-ogoh (which will be set on fire at the end to symbolize self-purification) must be fully vaccinated, mask up, and present negative antigen test results.

Nyepi falls on Thursday. 

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

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