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Courtesy of Instagram account: @angligan

On the penultimate day before Day of Silence (Nyepi) the entire island of Bali is transformed into one fascinating and scary ogre theme park of sorts. Every village boasts of giant effigies in the form of fantasy monsters with bloodshot eyes, huge heads, fangs and wild hair. The Ogoh-ogoh (ogres) compete with one another in colour and lighting. These creatures, which symbolise evil spirits, are made of a creative mix of Paper Mache, Styrofoam with generous coats of paint, some fluorescent, and built on a bamboo platform that can be lifted and carried by the villagers through the streets. However, in the last few years Balinese communities have begun using environmentally friendly raw materials, replacing Styrofoam etc. The design and production of these monsters takes a month or so.

The image of a gigantic Ogoh-ogoh in a threatening pose floating above the sea of humans is a sight to witness. The procession commences at sunset, the night of the dark moon of the Spring equinox when day and night are approximately of equal duration.

                                                                         Courtesy of Instagram account: @ogohogohupdate

This carnival like parade is believed to have been conceived by artists in Denpasar in the 1980s.

The Balinese perform the Bhuta ritual to chase away evil and restore the balance of Tri Hita Karana – the harmony between God, Mankind and Nature. The Pengrupukan ceremony commences at sunset in the courtyards of homes. People make loud noises by banging utensils and bamboo sticks together. They also burn dried coconut husk and leaves. This is done to create enough noise and smoke to drive away the demons.

                                                               Courtesy of Instagram account: @pesonaogohogoh

A ceremony to exorcise the demons is performed at important cross roads, which is considered to be the meeting places for demons. That is why when the Ogoh-ogoh are paraded through the streets they are always erratically turned in different directions at junctions. This is to confuse the demons.

The night of festivities and prayers ends with the burning of the Ogoh-ogoh. But not all are destroyed. A few are kept as decoration. Interestingly, some exquisitely designed Ogoh-ogoh have been sold to museums in the past.

All in all, it is night of prayer and revelry that ends in silence, for the following twenty-four hours a calming symphony of silence descends on the isle, ushering in a brand-new year of hope and great promise for the future of the denizens of Bali.