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Monday, March 11, 2013

Nyepi Eve Parade: Tawur Kesanga

Tonight, Aaron and I witnessed one of the most colorful, interesting, haunting, exciting and beautiful events we've seen in our 4 years of living in Asia!  Nusa Lembongan, the tiny island we are staying on is primarily Hindu and there are A LOT of Hindu celebrations throughout the year, but none quite like Nyepi!  Exactly one day before Nyepi (today), the village people hold a large exorcism ceremony at the main village cross road, where they believe to be the meeting place of demons. (I didn't know all of this before we walked down there to watch "the parade" and plopped ourselves on a wall, right at the crossroads.)  In fact, we didn't know it was an exorcism parade. If I had known that I probably would have been too freaked out to go!  Luckily, it seemed as if it was all in fun.  Everyone was laughing and clapping, so I  knew it wouldn't get too crazy and for 2 or 3 hours, I just took in the haunting sounds, traditional smells, colorful sights and intricate details of the whole thing. 

The people in the village handmade 8 Ogoh-ogoh monsters (a form of a parade float) to symbolize the evil spirits surrounding the village.  These things were freaky looking!  The local guys got up underneath the monsters and held them up, bouncing them up and down along the street, back and forth, back and forth, while traditional Balinese musicians played a mix of percussion and traditional instruments and small children and girls held bamboo torches and walked behind.

The parents propped the little kids up on a temple statue behind me.  Even they were loving it and stayed around until all hours of the night!

 When the parade makes it to one side of the town, they shoot off 5 fireworks into the sky before coming back down the street.

If you've ever seen the movie Life of Pi and fell in love with the scene of the Hindu Festival on the water where tens of thousands of candles lit up the area, you'll know the feeling of this night. It was magical, rich with culture, community, passion and colors, and I couldn't keep a smile off my face the entire time.

Being there for tonight's parade was a chance of a lifetime and something I'll never forget!
Happy Nyepi from a little island south of Bali, Indonesia!