Have you ever seen a photo of influencers on vacation in Bali, wearing Balinese clothes, and being splashed with water by Balinese women?
Or do they have flowers behind their ears, in a pool dipping under fountains of water?
The caption will probably mention self-purification, being reborn or cleansed.
These are Bali cleansing rituals. It is part of how the Balinese Hindus worship, but anyone can do it.
It is believed that these rituals help to self-clean, both physically and spiritually. From being filled with negativity, having anxiety, and nightmares, you can change to feeling refreshed, enlightened and relieved after the so-called shower. The ritual is called Melukat.
What is Melukat?
Melukat comes from the word sulukat. “Su” means good and “lukat” means purification. Melukat translates to purifying oneself for goodness and happiness.
It is just one part of the Tirtayatra ritual, which requires traveling to holy places to perform ritual prayers, to meditate and to take tirta (holy water). The tradition has been around for 5000 years!
In Bali, there are several places used for Melukat – including rivers, springs, temples, seas, showers, and water made by Hindu priests in their homes.
Nowadays, Melukat is not only for Balinese people. Thanks to the massive promotion of tourism in Bali, including spiritual tourism, more tourists are interested in having a spiritual experience.
Different Types of Melukat
The Balinese have 7 types of Melukat:
- Melukat Astupungku – to clean and purify (based on the negative influences of the day of birth, and the imbalance of the Tri Guna – which influences and shapes a person’s character)
- Melukat Surya Yomana – to remove stains and dirt on babies
- Melukat gini ngelayang – for treating disease
- Melukat prabu – to pray for success and prosperity
- Melukat gomana – to get rid of bad character traits (done on the person’s Balinese birthday – based on the Balinese Calendar; every 210 days)
- Melukat Semarabeda – to purify Sang Kama Jaya (God of Love), and his wife, Sang Kama Ratih of all stains. Usually done before someone gets married.
- Melukat Nawa Ratna – is said to have the same meaning as Melukat Prabu.
All the Melukat ceremonies are led by a pemangku (local ruler). Offerings such as prascita and bayuan are prepared by giving mantra or spells.
Those who will be ‘cleaned’ will do a ceremony with the pemangku first. You will be given a mantra and splashed with coconut water, then bath in a lake, river, or a place that is believed to be a blessing.
After, you can rinse your body and change clothes.
To end the ceremony, you will pray and be sprinkled with holy water by the priest.
When is the Best Time to do Melukat?
The Melukat ritual is a form of self-preparation to start a new, and better, life in the future. It’s important to complete the Melukat ritual on a holy day.
According to the Ministry of Hinduism in Gianyar, a good day to do Melukat is one day before, or after, the full moon.
You can also do it on ngembak geni (the final days of Nyepi), banyu pinaruh (the day after the Saraswati feast), tilem (the day when the moon is dead, or dark). All of these are good days according to the Balinese Hindu calendar.
Best Place to do Melukat Ritual
If you want to do the Melukat ritual, here are the most well-known places;
Pura Dalem Pingit Sebatu
Located not far from the famous Cekingan Sawah area, Pura Dalem Pingit Sebatu is so calm, it is guaranteed to make you more solemn and thoughtful. Tourists are allowed to join Melukat with the exceptions that they are not menstruating and dress modestly.
Pura Tirta Empul is probably the most famous place to do Melukat. It has 14 showers that drain from the natural springs. It is also used by locals for the ritual.
Although it is not as famous as Tirta Empul Temple, Taman Mumbul Temple is just as worthy to visit. Uniquely, inside the temple there is a large fish pond with beautiful green trees. Taman Mumbul Temple has 11 showers that can be used by local residents and tourists to carry out Melukat.
Campuhan Windhu Temple
Because of its strategic location, Campuhan Windhu Temple is often visited by tourists. The religious spot is commonly used by locals and tourists to carry out the Melukat tradition. There is a direct view of the ocean, the water used for the ritual is a mix of river and sea water.
What to do During Melukat
Because Melukat is a sacred ritual, there is an etiquette that must be followed.
- Follow the rules that apply at the religious place
- Respect the tradition
- Wear modest or Balinese clothes
- Say the mantra ‘Om Sarira Parisudhamam Swaha’ which means ‘May the physical body and the mind body be pure’
- Follow the ritual by bringing sesajen or offerings.
- Do not shower using soap or shampoo during the ritual
- It is forbidden to spit and urinate in the showers/water
- Do not curse during the ritual
- Some places may prohibit you to carry a bag, belt or other accessories made of cowhide
- Menstruating women are not allowed to do Melukat
Cleansing rituals in Bali are not just about cleaning the physical dirt on the body, but also the soul.
The ritual is open to be performed by anyone, with any religious background.
If you are heading to Bali for a spiritual escape, it is a must-do!