‘Ogoh-ogoh’ should not relate to politics, say leaders

by Luh De Suriyani on 2014-01-24

Religious and cultural leaders reminded citizens not to make or parade ogoh-ogoh (giant papier-mâché effigies) that bear the symbols of political parties and legislative or presidential candidates.

The Pengerupukan ritual, held one day before Nyepi — the Hindu Day of Silence, showcases ogoh-ogoh and will fall during this year’s general election campaign.

The Bali Grand Council of Customary Villages (MUDP) recently met with regional cultural and regional leaders to ensure that the parade would not be connected with politics, and generated guidelines for the matter.

MUDP chairman Jero Gede Suwena Putus Upadesha said the ogoh-ogoh should not show any connection to political parties.

“Both the shape and the attributes in the parade,” he said, referring to what is forbidden.

He said the meeting also resulted in the decision that the effigies should not be paraded outside respective villages, except with consent from relevant parties.

“The music too,” he said. “We suggest using Balinese gamelan and other instruments that reflect the island.”

In recent years, popular music, including hip-hop and techno, have made inroads to the street parade, mostly involving ogoh-ogoh made and paraded by inde-pendent groups of youngsters. Initially, ogoh-ogoh were made and paraded by groups affiliated to the local village or banjar (traditional hamlet).

The guideline states that participants and spectators are not allowed to carry firecrackers or fireworks. Each banjar is expected to submit to the committee a list of names for their respective ogoh-ogoh for security records.

The MUDP also ruled that the ogoh-ogoh should take shapes reflected in and related to Hindu literature. For example, the effigies should be in the form of Panca Pandawa or Rama, who represent virtue. Rather, they should be in the form of demons, ogres and other representations of vice.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Parisadha Hindu High Council (PHDI) assured citizens of the freedom to parade ogoh-ogoh even during the election campaign period.

“Ogoh-ogoh are part of the people’s creativity, so don’t ban the parade, even on election day,” Bali PHDI chairman I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana said.

As yet, the initial stages of building ogoh-ogoh have yet to be seen in traditional villages. Normally, preparations start in February or late January.

However this year, residents in several banjar were anxious as a broadcast message had spread around saying that the government would ban the ogoh-ogoh parade this year.

The MUDP started to disseminate its own information early this week.

Nyepi will be observed on March 31. Regardless of religious beliefs, people are expected to respect
the celebration by remaining silent for the whole 24 hours, including tourists.

Bali Tourism Agency said it had made relevant announcements regarding Nyepi on its website.

During Nyepi, it is strictly prohibited to have lights on, to work, to travel or to partake in amusements. Nyepi will run from 6 a.m. March 31 until 6 a.m. the following day.

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