Friday, April 1, 2016


We love the unique Balinese New Year's celebration of Nyepi and coordinated these festivities with our March buying trip to purchase beautiful furniture and accessories for Wesco Fabrics. On Nyepi eve we came upon this small temple in Ubud being presented with offerings.

Various rituals take place beginning three days before the "Silence Day" of Nyepi. Colorful village processions known as "Melasti" pilgrimages bring people toward the coast for elaborate purification ceremonies. I saw this group setting up near the beach in Legian.

We arrived in Ubud a few hours before their Ogoh Ogoh parade. We walked around many shrines and temples decorated with colorful offerings. On Nyepi eve many households have a "chasing away" ritual of getting rid of bad spirits from their homes. Pots & pans are hit loudly and flaming bamboo torches are waved in the compounds. Occasional booms of bamboo cannons and fireworks are heard.

I'm checking out an Ogoh Ogoh sculpture before the parade begins in the evening. A woman from France came up to me and asked where I bought this shirt. Its an old favorite of mine from the Bali based designer Paul Ropp.

Local "Banjar", or village councils, create large & terrifying "Ogoh Ogoh"sculptures representing malevolent spirits. They also make small ones to be carried in the parade by the kids. Later in the evening they are burned in a purification ceremony.

The Ubud Ogoh Ogoh parade is one of the larger ones in Bali. Thousands of spectators, both Balinese and foreign tourists alike, gather to witness this colorful and exotic spectacle. (Look at my Youtube video at the end of this post to get a feel of the sights & sounds.)

The excitement begins!

This is our fourth visit to Bali during Nyepi, and it is as exciting as ever!

Large Ogoh Ogoh parade down Monkey Forest Road as the almost trance inducing sounds of drums and gongs fill the humid evening air.

This sculpture really was wild and scary!

Many of the sculptures are too tall for the telephone lines crossing the street. Groups are delayed as bamboo polls lift the lines so they can pass through.

This was the first time we saw girls carrying an Ogoh Ogoh.

Nyepi day is also known as "Silence Day." It is a time of quiet and reflection with everyone confined to their homes & tourists to their hotels. No one is allowed on the roads and even the airport is closed. We used this silent time for contemplation, to write in our journals, and to immerse in quietude. With the day in slow motion I spent time looking at butterflies and listened to the sounds of nature.

The usual pace of our lives is pretty hectic, and this is why Marla particular loves the singular uniqueness of "Silence Day."

Marla and I walked down to the waterfall on the last day at our hotel near Ubud.  Our trip was fabulous: We purchased great things for Wesco Fabrics, enjoyed the unique Balinese tradition of Nyepi, and even had a moment for some needed relaxation. The next day it was on to Singapore and then off to Narita, Japan and back home to Denver.

Experience the frenetic & mysterious sights and sounds of the Ogoh Ogoh parade in Ubud with this Youtube video:

All images and video by Dick Gentry.

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