TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Lately, it seems that I Dewa Gede Surya has not had the chance to catch his breath. Besides having to complete his economics dissertation at the Udayana University in Bali, the 25-year-old has had his hands full preparing for the traditional ogoh-ogoh (giant puppet) parade set to take place on March 16. The annual Balinese Hindu festival, which includes parading puppets of all shapes and sizes, is meant to welcome the Nyepi Holy Day of Silence.
But this year’s parade will be different, says Dewa, who belongs to Yowana, the celebration’s organizer. This time around, Yowana, made up of Ubud youths concerned with the environment, will be presenting an unusual concept for the festival, with ‘Road to Organic’ as a theme for all the participants from four banjar (community units in Bali) in the Padangtegal Customary village, Ubud.
The use of styrofoam is banned for making the giant puppets. "Because it’s difficult to make ogoh-ogoh 100-percent biodegradable, we will simply stress ‘the road to organic’ (as a process) in the parade," explained Dewa.
The ogoh-ogoh parade is not only part of a religious ritual. In the event, Yowana will also campaign for the environment, including for the use of biodegradable items for everyday use (such as banana leaves, rather than styrofoam for eating), and the importance of sorting organic from inorganic trash. The group will also highlight opportunities in producing recycled goods from trash.
This year’s parade will not be Yowana’s first environmental campaign. Yowana head, Putu Indrayana, says the 500-strong group also organized a festival called Trash Fest last November. In line with its name, the festival aimed to change the community’s perspective and behavior in managing waste, with the long-term goal to free the world, and Bali in particular, from plastic trash.
"We want more and more young people to be aware of the need to reduce the use of plastic and to get involved in recycling," said Putu.
In Trash Fest, Padangtegal youths took a recreational walk through the Monkey Forest in Ubud, home to hundreds of monkeys. During the course of the walk, they picked up any trash they found along the way. Yowana also used the festival to inform the public on the detriments of garbage, and to make exhibit items from recycled household trash.