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Image: Ogoh Ogoh are being finished right now all over Bali. Credit: Wikipedia.

Nyepi traditionally begins with a huge ogoh-ogoh parade, where paper-made effigies/monsters are paraded around the streets of Bali before being burnt in order to scare away the evil spirits from the island. That’s the basic premise, but this year, because of you know what, it will be different.

Yesterday afternoon, the Bali Provincial Government together with the Parisadha Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) and the Customary Village Council (MDA) issued a circular related to the Covid-19 and the Nyepi Day Saka Year 1942 falling next Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

The head of the PHDI Bali I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana said in the statement that the ogoh-ogoh parade was not mandatory to the Nyepi ceremony. “There has been an appeal that the main parade does not go ahead,” Kompas quoted Sudiana saying at the Governor’s Bali Office on Tuesday (3/17/2020) afternoon.

However, the PHDI does not forbid Balinese or Hindus to continue their own ogoh-ogoh parades, but the implementation must follow the applicable provisions. The parade time is limited to two hours, from 5pm to 7pm on March 24, 2020 and is only allowed in the local banjar (traditional village).

“The person responsible is the Bendesa Adat and Prajuru (village heads) who will run the limited parades in an orderly and disciplined manner,” said Sudiana.

Meanwhile, Bali Governor I Wayan Koster stressed that tourists are prohibited from watching the ogoh-ogoh parade this year. “There is no exception, there should be no visitors. Participation will be limited,” said Koster.

Previously reported, the provincial government of Bali has limited activities involving many people to suppress the transmission of Covid-19 on the island of the Gods. The limitation of activities involving many people is one of the five working points prepared by the Covid-19 Task Force for Bali Province.

“If there are a lot of people at close range, when someone sneezes and coughs there is more potential to transmit Covid-19. Therefore, to prevent this, let’s reduce activities that involve large numbers of people,” said Chairman of the COVID-19 Prevention Task Force at Bali Province Dewa Made Indra after chairing a coordination meeting on the preparation of the Covid-19 Task Force Task Force work agenda in Denpasar, as reported by Antara, Friday (3/13/2020).