The Indonesian Hinduism Society (PHDI Bali) and the Balinese Association of Traditional Villages (MDA) have decreed the cancellation of Ogoh-Ogoh displays and parades connected with the celebration of the Balinese New Year.
Ogoh-Ogoh are large papier–mâché floats created by community banjars to be paraded on the shoulders of young men through the streets of the Island of Bali on the night before New Year’s Days – the day of absolute silence “Nyepi.”
In a joint memo issued on 19 January 2021 by the PHDI-Bali and Majelis Desa Adat (MDA) (No.009/PHDI-Bali/I/2021 and No 002/MDA-Prov Bali/I/201), the parading of Ogoh-Ogoh constructed in the weeks before “Nyepi” have been canceled for 2021. The memorandums decreed the cancellation of an event that typically attracts large crowds to Bali streets to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Nyepi – (1 Saka 1943) or New Year’s Day on the Balinese Calendar falls on Sunday, 14 March 2021.
As reported by Beritabali.com, the joint memorandums clarified that Ogoh-Ogoh parades and festivities are not, in any case, a mandatory part of the celebration of Hari Suci Nyepi Celebrations.
The PHDI-Bali and MDA have provided guidance for the observance of ceremonial days leading up to Balinese New Year – such as Melasti, Melis, and Mekiyis.
Melasti sees the temporary removal of sacred items and regalia stored in Balinese temples brought in solemn procession to the ocean or lakes to be purified. The regalia and the devout have all of leteh (filth) cleansed away through ritual bathing in sacred water sources (Tirta Amerta).
In contemplation of current undertakings to protect public health, the guidelines for marking Melasti, Tawur, and Pangrupukan include:
- To limit the number of participants at these religious ceremonies to no more than 50. Priests conducting religious rites are asked to ensure water, rice, and other items used to anoint worshippers be used in a clean and hygienic manner.
- Not to use pyrotechnics and fireworks in connection with the holy day ceremonies.
- Worshippers who feel unwell are asked not to attend the ritual ceremonies.
- All participants are asked to follow established “new normal” health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The joint memorandum directs all Balinese Hindu’s to strictly observe the four tenets of Nyepi – the day of silence, namely: to refrain from physical labor (Amati Karya), to no ignite a fire of any kind (Amati Geni), to not travel away from home (Amati Lelungan), and not engage in pleasurable activities (Amati Lelanguan).
Hindus are also implored to support Hari Suci Nyepi Tahun Saka 1943’s faithful observance to maintain religious unity in the community.