As one of the most festive islands in the world, Bali hosts many festivals each year. I bet you’re already familiar with the annual events such as Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Denpasar Film Festival,and the Kite Festival. However, besides those renowned ones, Bali also has extraordinary festivals which, perhaps, will surpise you in many ways. Here are 5 unusual festivals in Bali you should “go-to”:

Ogoh-Ogoh Parade


The day before Nyepi, the Balinese parade hundreds of giant figures called ogoh-ogoh around their villages. Made of bamboo and covered with paper, ogoh-ogoh symbolizes the negative force surrounding the human life. The philosophy of the parade is quite deep, that is the good will win over the bad.

Since ogoh-ogoh becomes the pride of a banjar in Bali, each banjar competes to make the most beautiful yet intriguing ogoh-ogoh every year. Around a month before the parade, the people of each banjar will congregate in their village hall to design and produce their own ogoh-ogoh.

As one of the most festive islands in the world, Bali hosts many festivals each year. I bet you’re already familiar with the annual events such as Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, Denpasar Film Festival,and the Kite Festival. However, besides those renowned ones, Bali also has extraordinary festivals which, perhaps, will surpise you in many ways. Here are 5 unusual festivals in Bali you should “go-to”:

Ter-Teran


This festival is held once in  every two years in Jasri Village, Karangasem Regency. Around 6 pm, the night before Nyepi Day, the local people assemble. They will bring tied, dried coconut leaves which look like the baseball bat. People will separate themselves into two groups. The leaves will be lit, the electricity will be turned off. For a while, the night will seem romantic as there are many torches shining the blanket of the night with the yellow light.

But the situation suddenly becomes frantic as people from each side start throwing the burning leaves to the opposing party. “They have a peculiar sense of humor,” you thought. But Ter-Teran is, in fact, held to shoo bad spirits lingering on their village and send them away to the deserted ocean.

Omed-Omedan


Omed-omedan literally means “pulling one another” in the Balinese language. It’s quite prgressive as it involves kissing, hence, the popular name “Kissing Ritual.” Some literature says that the event has been conducted since the 17th century in Sesetan Village, South Denpasar, after Nyepi Day. Only the unmarried youth of Sesetan Village can participate on this anticipated event.

In omed-omedan, it is not only right to kiss a stranger, but your kissing scene will be seen by the village chief and the public. Two teams, boys and girls, will face each other. The ones that will do the kissing will be carried on the shoulder. As they meet, they will pull each other and only God knows how they eventually kiss each other… on the mouth, of course. It becomes more dramatic as buckets of water will be thrown to the couple.

Makare-Kare


The people of Tenganan Village in Karangasem Regency seem to be more expert in utilizing the tropical pandan leaf than any of us. They understand that there are two kinds of pandanus: one that can be used for cooking and another that can be employed for fighting. Once a year, in Tenganan, one of the oldest villages in Bali, people conduct a bizarre fighting festival called Makare-Kare or the Pandan War.

The festival is held once a year during a traditional ceremony called Sasih Sembah. The natives of Tenganan do the Pandan War for honoring the God of War, Indra. How they fight is quite simple. Two men holding a simple shield will hit each other using spiky pandan after drinking an amount of tuak,  a traditional Balinese liquor, while women cheer them up from the distance. Though is a fighting, people participating in this event won’t hold a grudge against each other. Besides, the fighters do not intend to conquer their opponent, but themselves.

Ngerebong


Have you ever been in a situation when a person is possessed by a spirit? (“Yes, I have. When I watch Annabelle.”) Now, in Ngerebong, you will see hundreds of people possessed by whatever possessing them. Yet, the festival is not so hyperbolic as the horror movies.

Instead of defying the gravity by flying back and forth, they will stay on the ground, nonchalantly find a sharp weapon within reach—usually keris—and try to stab themselves in the chest, neck, or their head. Strangely enough, the weapon won’t work; no drop of blood is shed in this festival. Perhaps the power comes from the belief that they do Ngerebong as a service for the deities. Not for the faint hearted, you can see this bizarre festival at Pura Pangrebongan, Kesiman Village, Denpasar, once in six months in the Balinese calendar.

So are you ready to see these unusual festivals?

Text by: Fuji Adriza