Time to chase away the demons? Head to Bali for a week-long monster doll-making course and join an island-wide festival to scare off evil spirits.
As Bali prepares for its annual Nyepi Hindu New Year, which this year falls on March 28, 2017, villages across the island will be busy creating giant papier mâché effigies of mythological monsters known as “ogoh-ogoh.” The towering, brightly-painted statues are impressive works of street art with garish make-up and imaginative costumes – reflecting the inherent artistic talent for which the Balinese are renowned. They are made from materials such as paper, bamboo and styrofoam, light enough to be carried on the shoulders of Balinese men in an island-wide parade on Nyepi Eve, March 27, 2017. This lively parade accompanied by kulkul music is intended to excite evil spirits and draw them out from their hiding places. The next day, the island “plays dead” for the Day of Silence purification ritual: a deception tactic to trick the evil spirits into thinking Bali has been deserted, and bore them into going elsewhere.
It is a wonderful time to be in Bali to experience this unique-in-the-world cultural event, and the new Ganesha Cultural Centre at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay invites guests to get into the Nyepi spirit by making their own ogoh-ogoh. The Balinese curator of the Resort’s cultural program, Luhgde Suryatini, will run daily Monster Doll-Making classes from March 20 to 24, 2017 inclusive, teaching guests the techniques, art forms and cultural significance behind this annual festival as they help to make the Resort’s ogoh-ogoh. Classes are complimentary for in-house guests of Four Seasons Resorts Bali; for a fee of IDR 200,000 guests can also make their own mini ogoh-ogoh to take home as a memorable souvenir of chasing away their demons in Bali. On March 27, 2017, all guests are invited to join the ogoh-ogoh parade starting at the Resort’s Temple and ending at Jimbaran Beach.
“Nyepi is my favourite day of the year,” sayes Uday Rao, General Manager of Four Seasons Resorts Bali . “Nowhere else in the world does an entire village – let alone a province of more than four million people spread across an area of more than 6,000 square kilometres (2,300 square miles) – stop everything to observe complete silence for 24 hours, giving ourselves, the gods and our environment a well-earned rest. It’s the Balinese way of giving Mother Earth a break. What a wonderful way to show gratitude. It is quite awesome to hear what Mother Earth sounds like when the noise and clutter of everyday life is taken away. If you ever want to know what silence sounds like, this is the perfect day for it. A truly special experience that I believe should be on everyone’s bucket list.”
After the excitement of the ogoh-ogoh parade, the Day of Silence begins at dawn on March 28 and continues until dawn on March 29, 2017. During this time, no vehicles or machinery may be used, no work may be done, no fires lit, and no exuberant activity undertaken. The airport and seaport close, roads are empty, and nobody leaves their house. Guests of hotels must remain within the Resort grounds where most facilities are open to enjoy as usual, with the added benefit of complete and utter tranquility – and isn’t that what a holiday is for, after all?