Ohhhhgo Ogoh - What a Parade!

Mar 5, 2019     Indonesia     Destinations, Local Celebrations, My Adventures
The Patang Catur Muka roundabout in Denpasar is THE BEST place to see the Ogoh-Ogoh parade!!
The Patang Catur Muka roundabout in Denpasar is THE BEST place to see the Ogoh-Ogoh parade!!
Talk about a cool local Bali tradition. This massive parade went on and on and I was lucky enough to see it in the best place ever! Big smile all night long.
There's nothing better than accidentally ending up in a place during one of their largest cultural celebrations! Just when my house sitting "adventure" was wrapping up and I was trying to figure out what to do with my free time before I flew home from Bali, Nyepi landed in my lap.

My neighbor warned me to beware of Nyepi while I was planning my visit to Komodo since there is no transportation or even flights on that day! I had never even heard of this before. A few internet searches later and I'm super excited. 1) Nyepi is a day of silence and seclusion - like the entire island of Bali. 2) The night before is an amazing parade of demon statues.

Best place for this? Denpasar. It turns out I had just enough time for a few days in the city before I flew over to Komodo. I'd just have to cut that down to the wire and not explore the island of Flores. On a recommendation from my previous driver (that sounds snooty, doesn't it? LOL), I booked the Inna Bali Heritage Hotel which is RIGHT where the hot spot of the parade is. (see Ogoh Ogoh in Bali and the Single Best Place to Watch the Parade)

Each village builds a demon effigy which you see all over Bali being built along the roads.
Driving across Bali there were Ogoh Ogoh being built in every village.
Driving across Bali there were Ogoh Ogoh being built in every village.
This is the first one I saw. It doesn't matter - they just block the road for the weeks preceding Nypei to build the effigies.
This is the first one I saw. It doesn't matter - they just block the road for the weeks preceding Nypei to build the effigies.
In Denpasar wow. some of them are so big! I was walking around and could easily see the huge scaffolding down the road. I stopped to take photos of one of them and a nice boy (young man) offered for me to sit and talked to me about the traditions for a bit. Part of their display was a big elephant fish ogoh-ogoh. Love it. I asked him out much this cost to build so he called over the guy in charge. 55,000,000 (about $3,500!) by the time it's completed.
This is the huge ogoh-ogoh I came across in Denpasar. They were nice and let me sit and chat a while.
This is the huge ogoh-ogoh I came across in Denpasar. They were nice and let me sit and chat a while.
Papier mache-ing the arm about 10 feet in the air.
Papier mache-ing the arm about 10 feet in the air.
So many locals were stopping in the busy street to look at this creation.
So many locals were stopping in the busy street to look at this creation.
These guys are busy working on the finishing touches just up the street from my hotel.
These guys are busy working on the finishing touches just up the street from my hotel.
My hotel is the second property down from the Patang Catur Muka roundabout intersection where it's like the grandstand for the parade. I got there a 6pm and there weren't' many people. I spotted one spot left to sit on this ledge so thought that looked perfect. OMG that's a narrow ledge! But I hopped up without looking too lame. Filthy (i'm now totally smudged with dirt) and not too comfy w/ feet dangling. Maybe I should be on the curb so I'm right in front. Nope, this turned out to be a much better spot!
Patang Catur Muka roundabout on a normal day. It's a very pretty area.
Patang Catur Muka roundabout on a normal day. It's a very pretty area.
Sat there for an hour watching everyone show up. I saw less than 20 bule the whole time. I love how men wear a sarong just as common as jeans. The guy to the left of me was wearing a sarong and traditional headpiece while the guy on the other side of me was wearing jeans and a baseball cap. Both just as "normal". I would love to get Dave in a sarong.

By 7pm the crowds filled the sidewalks and were also in the middle of the roundabout in front of the statue. Aside from the glaring light shining right at me (which will be terrible for photos) and a bit of discomfort (I kind of feel like I was on a Survivor challenge), this spot is great! The couple next to me managed to stand up. Oh good, i was hoping we'd be able to stand. I figured I might fall, but I managed to get upright. Not even enough room for me entire foot. LOL
I love men in sarongs. I especially love this one with a Harley shirt! LOL
I love men in sarongs. I especially love this one with a Harley shirt! LOL
I'm glad I got there at 6pm! I found one last spot on a skinny ledge on the pagoda. My spot on the 8
I'm glad I got there at 6pm! I found one last spot on a skinny ledge on the pagoda. My spot on the 8" ledge was great to see over the crowd!
Finally the ice was broken and one group of kids brought their small ogoh-ogoh into the circle on its bamboo scaffolding raft. Everyone cheered - woo hoo! Then the little blue one from near my hotel made it out. More cheers. Then it really got going.

Then larger Ogoh-Ogoh started coming up the road from the West. Oh cool, now it's a parade! Then a super large one came into view. A 3-headed turtle - it's huge! This is so awesome. It managed to run around the circle 3 times and was quite a site. The crowd was really into it, too. More and more came and you could see them lit from below on their was down the road toward this main arena.

As the night went on, the crowd got thicker and ticker. It looked like a mosh pit and there was barely room for the ogoh-ogoh to get through! There was gridlock with the officials trying their hardest to direct which street got to enter the circle. A fight broke out at one point. No doubt someone got nailed by a thick bamboo pole.

Bands playing, running around the circle (ideally 3 times) but then it got too crowded. Long sticks to raise up the electrical lines. Great energy! They run through the circle, they shake their demon, they spin him in circles (yeah, don't hit anyone in the head w/ the scaffolding!).
Nothing short of spectacular! And look at everyone with their smartphones out. LOL
Nothing short of spectacular! And look at everyone with their smartphones out. LOL
Then whistles started blowing, someone started yelling at the crowd through a loudspeaker, and they started clearing the North entrance into the circle. Ooh - here comes a biggie from that way! The rest of the night they came in from both directions. They would get held up exiting the circle, there wasn't enough room for them to spin around as much, and only a few were allowed to circle more than once.

Some are animated and have colored smoke. Some are as small as a couple of feet high where a single person carries the mini scaffold raft, shaking and turning their demon. The bigger ones all have their own band - drums, gong, symbols. Some shout and sing.

Everyone w/ their phones out taking photos and video. My phone w/ the shattered lens didn't fare well especially w/ the bright light to contend with and my camera needed a frickin tripod to take a clear shot.
Colored smoke, cheering, crowds, what energy!
Colored smoke, cheering, crowds, what energy!
This is the one that guys were busy working on just up the street from my hotel.
This is the one that guys were busy working on just up the street from my hotel.
I just want to see my elephant fish Ogoh Ogoh come through. I know it will be impressive completed and lit up.

Even our ledge was crowded. People would put their kids up there, forcing everyone to lean on each other. I was literally dripping in sweat and my glasses were fogging up it was that hot. At one point someone was actually sitting on my feet! I had no water. After 3 1/2 hours I was feeling a bit weak. It was too crowded at this point for the drink vendors to wander through. Time to go. No elephant fish for me.

My knees were so stiff and I was sore from standing and being squished on that ledge for so many hours. I thought I might turf it getting down. LOL I couldn't see the ground and I knew the sidewalks were not exactly level but I made it through, across the street, and to my hotel. Wow, this is cool!
The long long line of the procession waiting to get up to the main roundabout.
The long long line of the procession waiting to get up to the main roundabout.
Just around the corner here it's TOTALLY different. The ogoh-ogoh and their groups are just lined up in wait to come into teh circle. It's more calm, it's darker. Some of them jump around a bit but for the most part, the "floats" are sitting on the ground waiting to get to the big show. there were ogoh-ogoh as far as I could see. Literally as far as I could see.

People were all sitting on the ground of my hotel parking lot and there were food stands all over grilling corn on the cob or satay skewers and selling by candlelight. I like the vibe here too but the real excitement is around the corner. ;)
Selling refreshments by candlelight.
Selling refreshments by candlelight.
Smoky satay stands everywhere. I almost wish I ate meat, just for the peanut sauce! ha ha
Smoky satay stands everywhere. I almost wish I ate meat, just for the peanut sauce! ha ha
A quick 15 minutes back at the room to down a bottle of water, shower off, and put on some dry clothes. I walked up my street a bit and look who's there; my elephant fish demon!! Yay! I would love to have seen it in all its glory but I was so happy I walked right out into it. I figured it would be coming form the West, not the North. Fate.

After a quick video WhatsApp with my boyfriend to show him the festivities in front of the hotel, it was almost midnight and I was exhausted. I would love to stay up until it's over but I just don't think I can do it. I heard the fireworks go off just after 2am and then it got quiet. Next stop, Nyepi.
Looking back up at the main intersection from just past my hotel. Ahh, what a great night - I'm beat!
Looking back up at the main intersection from just past my hotel. Ahh, what a great night - I'm beat!

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