Traditions of making Ogo-ogo

Since the early 1980s, a traditional procession of mythical creatures has been held in Denpasar. On the day before Nyepi, each village displays its most terrifying demon figure in this Ngerupuk parade. These sculptures are called Ogoh-ogoh. Each one depicts a mythical demon. According to tradition, the Ogoh-ogoh are meant to scare and drive away evil demons from homes and villages during the Day of Silence. At the end of the procession, the Ogoh-ogoh figures are burned, symbolizing the destruction of evil spirits.
In the 1980s, Ogoh-ogoh were primarily constructed using bamboo sticks, woven bamboo leaves, and papier-mâché. Starting in the 2000s, more modern materials began to be used, mainly polystyrene foam, which is easy to carve into various parts of the figures. This cheap and accessible material quickly became popular.
However, a young architect named Marmar, who leads the construction of Ogoh-ogoh in one of the villages, decided to return to the roots and use traditional bamboo materials, as they are more environmentally friendly. They are inexpensive and do not pollute the environment as much during burning. "The use of polystyrene for Ogoh-ogoh is a recent tradition. Previously, the effigies were made of bamboo, covered with papier-mâché, and painted with natural dyes. Many children who participate in building the sculptures don't know that environmentally friendly materials were used in the past," he said.
Marmar is confident that the process of returning to the use of traditional materials will not take much time or money. The older generations still remember how it used to be and support this initiative. Additionally, he noted that the use of synthetic materials contradicts the spirit of the holiday itself—Nyepi, the Day of Silence. During this time, all Balinese people cleanse themselves spiritually and physically, abstaining from pleasures and entertainment. Polluting the environment on such a day is unacceptable.
It is planned that all Ogoh-ogoh makers will fully transition to bamboo materials. This is not only environmentally friendly but also significantly cheaper. Using bamboo materials also supports local craftsmen who cultivate and harvest bamboo.
Marmar also hopes that more and more young people will be involved in the creation of Ogoh-ogoh, as the process of making the statue holds important traditional significance. It brings people together (often 40-50 people work on one statue) and helps preserve culture and traditions.
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