Silent Day approaches and so do the Ogoh Ogoh (monsters)

Tomorrow Bali celebrates it’s New Year as a Silent Day called ‘Nyepi’ .

However, the celebrations start today and, by contrast, today is called ‘noisy day’ – and for good reason!

One of many Ogoh Ogoh

One of many Ogoh Ogoh

For weeks the Balinese youth have been making giant ‘Ogoh Ogoh’ out of frames covered in paper mache and then decorated to look like incredibly evil monsters called ‘Ogoh Ogoh’ (actually these photos are from last year, for new pics see here).

Ogoh Ogoh being carried on a lattice of bamboo

Ogoh Ogoh being carried on a lattice of bamboo

Many noisy young men then parade the Ogoh Ogoh through the streets, from the palace to the football field, on bamboo poles, to the accompaniment of traditional music.  The carnival atmosphere is complete with the firing of bamboo canons, the loud beating of drums and a colourful firework display in the evening.

Then, in the dark of the night, the Ogoh Ogoh are carried to the cemetery, which might be in the middle of the forest, and burnt.  The burning is a symbolic gesture to neutralise the evil spirits contained within the Ogoh Ogoh and it heralds in Nyepi, the Balinese New Year.

Another finely crafted Ogoh Ogoh - in every detail

Another finely crafted Ogoh Ogoh – in every detail

Nyepi is the opposite, it’s a day of silence – island wide silence.  The airport and seaports are closed, no vehicles or pedestrians are allowed on the street, no work is done, no fire (that includes lights or power for laptops/tvs etc) and no food is made.  However, there are some allowances for tourists and food can be prepared the day beforehand also, of course, emergencies are still dealt with.

The thinking is that, after the burning of the Ogoh Ogoh, the bad spirits will not bother to return the next day if all is quiet and in darkness.  Others say the spirits do return, but as good spirits.

Ogoh Ogoh chariot, pulled by wild black dogs
Ogoh Ogoh chariot, pulled by wild black dogs

In practice, Nyepi/Silent Day, is an inward looking day full of contemplation, meditation and relaxation.  Talking is allowed, so maybe the word ‘silent’ is a tad misleading.  However, just think, if there is no traffic noise, no machinery or generator hums, no television, radio or stereos then it is as near to silence as you are ever likely to get – island wide.

Regardless of the western styled name for Nyepi, the idea of having such a ‘green’ day, where absolutely minimum power is used, certainly appeals to me (not that it is done specifically as a green day – that’s just a great by-product).

In fact, environmentalists are lobbying the United Nations for a World Silent Day aimed at reducing the impact of global warming.

They suggest a four hour period from 10am to 2pm across the world’s 25 time zones in which people do not use vehicles, electricity or electronic equipment including computers, televisions and telephones.

Two monsters for the price of one

Two monsters for the price of one

Having experienced this special, energy saving, silent and peaceful day  since 2009 I am in total agreement that a World Silent Day would be an excellent idea.  Not only would it reduce the impact of global warming but it could also serve to unite the world in an unprecedented way, perhaps in a global state of communal consciousness.

Silent Day provides time to think, to dream, to question ourselves, to consider our inner wisdom and guidance, to practice minimalism, to listen to our body, mind and heart.  It is a day to restore the balance and it is a time of unhurried moments when we can simply ‘be’.

In our time pressured lives wouldn’t it be nice to take an unhurried moment and allow it to last for much longer than just a moment?  It has been said that only in silence can all conflicts be resolved, all differences disappear.

There would doubtless be many objections to having a World Silent Day but I feel that most objections would be based on materialist greed.  However, I would hope that the opportunity to unite in silence while reducing the impact of global warming would win the day.

I would be interested in knowing if you support the idea of a World Silent Day, so perhaps you would like to vote:

Leave a comment


  1. sandehvallesi

     /  02/04/2014

    Dear Julie,
    you are always full of inspiring ideas! Thank you for the beautiful poem and the Ogoh Ogoh pics (whre did you get those???) I did not see them on the football field…

    • Hey Sandeh
      Thank you. Ahh, if you mean the pics on the link that I attached, then that was from a previous year.

      My most recent pics, from the palace on Sunday, were full of orbs! Take a look at the blog post ‘Happy New Year – Bali Style’ – the orbs look best if you look at the pics at night.
      Lets catch up soon.

  2. Absolutely, Julie. It is going to take all of that and a whole lot more to reverse the damage that has already been done to the environment.

  1. Nyepi poem | Julie in Bali
  2. Happy New Year – Bali Style | Julie in Bali
  3. On the way to Gili Trawangan… | Julie in Bali
  4. Happy Earth Day – refuse to use plastic! « Julie in Bali
  5. Great new Ogoh Ogoh.. « Julie in Bali

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