The Indonesian Hinduism Society (PHDI) and the Traditional Village Council (MDA) of Bali Province have issued a Joint Circular regarding the processions of this year’s Hari Raya Nyepi (Balinese Day of Silence), which falls on Sunday, 14 March 2021. In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, processions of the annual ogoh-ogoh parade are prohibited to avoid the spread of the virus.
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In the Joint Circular, Bendesa Agung MDA Bali, Ida Panglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, stated that the procession of the ogoh-ogoh parade is not seen as a mandatory part of Hari Raya Nyepi, therefore processions of the ogoh-ogoh parade prior to this year’s Nyepi is abolished. Additionally, the circular also stated that this year’s Melasti, Tawur and Pangrupukan ceremonies must limit the number of participants taking part in the processions to a maximum of 50 people.
To avoid the potential spread of Covid-19, all committees and participants must follow the health protocols for the prevention and control of Covid-19 in this ‘new normal’ era. Moreover, the public is prohibited from lighting up firecrackers, fireworks and the likes.
During the day of Melasti, traditional villages near Segara (sea/ocean) will proceed with Melasti on the beach, traditional villages nearby Danu (lake) will conduct Melasti at the lake, traditional villages near Campuhan (confluence) will proceed with Melasti at a Campuhan, and traditional villages that have Beji (sacred garden) and/or Beji Temple will conduct Melasti at a Beji.
This year’s cancellation of the ogoh-ogoh parade isn’t the first time it’s happened. Last year’s ogoh-ogoh parade was postponed and eventually cancelled, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And although the ogoh-ogoh parade isn’t a mandatory part of Hari Raya Nyepi, this second cancellation will certainly affect a long-standing tradition, one that actually started back in the early 80’s.
As a community that has strong cultural and religious beliefs, traditional ceremonies such as the ogoh-ogoh parade are an important part of annual tradition. The primary intention of the ogoh-ogoh parade, which represents spiritual purposes inspired by Hindu philosophy, is to purify the natural environment of any spiritual impurities resulting from the actions of human beings.
The decision to cancel this year’s ogoh-ogoh parade will certainly be a disappointment to the Balinese Hindu community, as it is a highly anticipated annual event. Other residents and visitors who seek to experience the unique annual silent day and the festive ogoh-ogoh parade will be missing out on what is normally a stunning display of creativity and culture. Surely the decision wasn’t made lightly, but considering the ongoing pandemic a compromise must be made to ensure the health and safety of the island’s residents.
The legal basis of this Circular is the Instructions by the Minister of Home Affairs Number 01 of 2021 regarding the Enforcement of Activity Limitations for Managing the Spread of COVID-19.
The Joint Circular Number 009/PHDI-Bali/I/2021 and Number 002/MDA-Prov Bali/I/2021 dated January 19, 2021, was signed by the Chairman of PHDI Bali I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, Bendesa Agung MDA Bali Ida Panglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, and Bali Governor Wayan Koster.