chasing the bad spirits away…balinese style
How I Brought in the Balinese New Year: Part Two
Thursday, March 22nd: the eve before NYEPI 2012
After a day at the beach, we went home to get some food in our stomachs before the evening’s festivities. Tonight, our goal was to see the ogoh-ogoh parade. Time to make some loud noise and chase those bad spirits away!
I whipped up some saimin. It’s been our staple food, at least at home. I threw in scrambled eggs, green onions and crushed mint leaves to fancy it up. It was a quick meal, as we wanted to head out before sunset.
We had no idea what we were doing, or where to go. We just went.
My little red pay-as-you-go cellular beeped, and I checked the text message. “Hi Des, where do you want to meet?”
“I don’t know, where is a good place?”
“We are driving right now…we’ll let you know if we find something.”
Finally, after a series of mini-texts, back and forth, a phone call comes through. “I see a huge group of people standing in line at Hardy’s. I don’t know why there are standing in line. But something is going on…”
So, we headed down toward Hardy’s, a local market, where our friends decided to park it. (Everything in Bali is kind of word-of-mouth. No fliers, nothing online, you just have to ask around if you need any information. About anything – no really – anything.)
On our way down, we saw a large group of people dressed in Hindu attire – well, actually, half temple attire and half street clothes – and a giant purple ogoh-ogoh statue with multiple arms extending in the air.
“Oh, look…ogoh-ogoh! Stop here! Thanks, Babe.” I’m such a pleasant passenger-seat driver. My husband loves it.
We found a perfect little spot to park, right behind the group. Talk about timing. They were getting ready – or actually, they were all sitting, relaxing on the ground. Traffic was still going by, but slowing down, while passerbys took quick snapshots of the statue.
We decided to park and wait till the group decided to leave. They had to have been going somewhere, and we figured if they head down the road, they’d eventually end up at Hardy’s.
So we followed them. It was pretty cool. Exciting. We have it on video. We walked down the hill, toward the bypass, following the drumming, the music, the ogoh-ogoh. Meanwhile, a plethora of mopeds and cars were still attempting to through, going the opposite direction as the parade.
It was kind of nuts, but fun and exhilarating at the same time. We came to the conclusion that they don’t really close off the streets for parades. Ummmmm…kay.
As we marched behind the ogoh-ogoh, along with the mopeds and the cars, we approached one of the main traffic lights. Our village’s ogoh-ogoh started to merge with the main parade on the bypass. “Look, more ogoh-ogohs!” I felt like a little kid at a Disneyland parade. Except it was different. Waaaaay different.
The group from our village turned right, and we turned left, fighting our way through a river of people and idling mopeds, to head in the opposite direction toward Hardy’s. It was like swimming upstream, except instead of getting water up your nose, we were sucking in exhaust fumes.
We finally met up with our friends at Hardy’s parking lot. Yay, we made it! Their car was smoking for some reason. Go figure. Maybe it was the freon. They just got their air conditioning fixed. Oh well. Let’s walk! Downstream we go…
So we walked alongside the parade, walked through mad traffic, and followed the ogoh-ogoh madness, colorful, ginormous, statues flying high above us. We headed toward the end of the bypass in Nusa Dua – walked about a good mile, or so it seemed.
At one point, I started walking through a group of people, oblivious to the fact that they were all wearing the same color T-shirts. I suddenly realized there was a giant ogoh-ogoh coming my way. Oops! The parade had suddenly come back toward our direction, and I was walking right through a group of parade people.“What the…???”
You should have seen my face. I was so confused. Pure comedy.
See, this is why we need traffic control, people. You know, like traffic cones, and officers in reflective vests. Not in Bali, though. But it’s okay, I kinda liked it. The chaos.
As Brendon protected me with one arm, I got pushed (gently) into some bushes in the median, while the rest of the crowd – families, kids, tourists – followed suit. Here they come…loud whistles, drums, cymbals, torches, music…and a gigantic ogoh-ogoh, flying above us. “Wait a minute, didn’t I see that one already?” Oh yeah, they magically made a U-turn somewhere. That’s right.
I learned later, that while carrying the ogoh-ogoh statues, they purposely stop at intersections and u-turns, and rotate the statues around in circles in order to confuse the bad spirits…??? Oh, okaaaay. Now it all made sense…
After getting our fill of seeing the brightly colored, impressively built statues, we headed back, like a herd of cows. It was a long sweaty walk back to Hardy’s. The temperature doesn’t drop much here in the evenings, either.
We all decided it would be a good idea to hop in one car and grab a cold beer and a grab a bite to eat. But we ended up in traffic, unknowingly getting stuck behind another ogoh-ogoh parade from another village. And then another one. To top it off, all of the warungs (small side-of -the-road eateries where you can eat local food) were pretty much shut down. After a good 45 minutes of sitting in ogoh-ogoh traffic, we finally made it back to Nusa Dua.
Was it worth all the madness? Totally.