You can see Bali in Lombok… but you can’t see Lombok in Bali!
This year the parade takes place on 28 march, 2017 the day before nyepi, and is an exciting and noisy procession of fantastic monsters that dance and twist their way along the main streets of Lombok’s capital city, Mataram.
“Ogoh-Ogoh” is the name given on the giant monsters representing Hindu creatures of the underworld (know in Balinese as buta kala). Ogoh-ogoh are usually based on evil characters or spirits taken from traditional myths and legends, although more modern monsters include effigies of political characters, or symbolic representations of “ the demon within” and evil temptations in the modern world.
About one month before Nyepi, the Hindu community starts to plan their Ogoh-ogoh creations. If you drive around the back streets of Mataram and Cakra over the next couple of weeks, you will see these huge constructions taking shape by the side of the roads.
Each Balinese village, even those in Lombok, is run by a banjar, a community council that supports and maintains the temples and village environment; as well as mediating problems in the village, etc.
In preparation for Nyepi, the Banjar collects money, often with order smaller communities joining with a bigger one, to create Ogoh-ogoh together.
The people work together to create the monsters, using bamboo and wire frames, papier-mache, polystyrene and other materials. Sometimes special artisans are brought in from Bali, gifted in monster making and hired to products amazing monsters.
They are often works of art that have taken many hours to create. A simple Ogoh-ogoh may cost as little as RP 500 000 to make but more elaborate figures can cost up to RP 12 million.
The young people of villages take great delight in competing with other villages to create the most gruesome, terrifying or eye-cathcing Ogoh-ogoh.
The parade of Ogoh-ogoh, although a fun and popular event for spectators, is in fact an important ceremony in preparation for Nyepi; representing a type of mass exorcism of evil in order to start the Hindu New Year spiritually fresh and clean.
Before the parade, a Pemangku (temple priest) holds a ceremony to imbue the buta kala with spirit and power. Some say the monster gets heavier after this ceremony!
The Ogoh-ogoh is then placed on a bamboo frame, so that many people can help to carry it, making wild movements and dancing to bring the monster to life. Groups of people in traditional dress join the parade, taking turns to carry the heavy figures and dancing alongside their Ogoh-ogoh.
Musical groups, gamelan players and dancers in costume often accompany their monster, creating a spectacle of sound and drama. As evil spirits are believed to inhabit crossroad, particular attention is paid to each intersection, with the Ogoh-ogoh lurching and dancing wildly in the middle of the road to scare off any other evil spirits lurking there.
The parade travels along Jl Pejanggik, the main street in Mataram, and can involve more then a hundred Ogoh-ogoh and thousands of spectators.
The monsters are then paraded home to their respective Banjar, where they will often be burn in ritual symbolizing the destruction of evil (although these days some of the more elaborate creations are no longer being destroyed).
Most importantly, the Ogoh-ogoh parade has become multi-cultural event in Lombok, with the whole community joining in the excitement. It’s not unusual to see Muslim groups and Gendang Beleq troupes playing the big drums of Lombok – and even Chinese Lion Dancers – marching and laughing alongside the Hindu groups with their monsters.
If you would like to see the parade, join the crowds in the afternoon on 8 march at around 2pm along the main street of Mataram (near the Matram Mall).
The Ogoh-ogoh parade is fascinating event, full of music,dance, fun and excitement. Spectators are always welcome…be sure to take your camera! – Taken from The Lombok Guide Newspaper..