Hindu community in Bali has a unique tradition called melukat or purificatory rite. This ritual serves as one of the smallest forms of self-purification. It aims to purify the self from negative elements, so as to live life well. Division Head of the Institute for Community Services (LPM) of the Hindu University of Indonesia (Unhi) Denpasar, Ida Bagus Sutama, said the purificatory rite was generally performed before saying prayers. It used holy water, namely the spiritually purified water (given a mantra). “Melukat ritual is the beginning of a religious event, while the latest purification is called pilgrimage,” he said.
Purificatory rite before saying prayers has four stages. Firstly, it is the bath at home; secondly, the sprinkle of holy water in front of the entrance gates called banyu awang; thirdly, before saying prayers is purified with the sprinkle of holy water by temple priest; and fourthly, raising hands smudged with smokes of incense and taken to the face. Melukat is to neutralize negative aura coming from ourselves as well as from others. After the procession, it is expected to purify the mind and obtain good practice in the field. “Having got purification, people are expected to have a divine mind,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Hindu community also commonly carries out purification at sources of water, such as shower, springs, seas, lake, river confluence, dams and well. “All of them serve as a means to perform the purificatory rite. Meanwhile, the ritual paraphernalia in use consists of prayascita durmanggala. Prayascita is used to perform spiritual purification, while durmanggala is for physical purification,” he explained.
Rainwater can also be used as a means for purificatory rite. Rainwater in open spaces is clean and does not mix with mercury as approaching the law of water (H2O). Likewise, the oblation used is also adapted to self-need. “Melukat is necessary to cope with stress and discard negative aura caused by stress of everyday life,” he added. Auspicious day to perform purificatory rite is on full moon because it is good for self-perfection, while on dark moon is good for self-resurrection. “In the darkness, we observe the star to see starlight. It’s the star within the self, and then the time is called resurrection and awareness,” he observed.
Pinnacle of the purificatory rite occurred on Banyupinaruh. At that time is called kumbamela, where kumba means ‘cooking pot’ and mela means ‘flowing.’ Therefore, Balinese people always made purificatory rite by means of cooking pot. “Hindus has a belief that the use of cooking pot was inspired by Lord Shiva when pouring water from cooking pot the holy Ganges, the holy river in India, was created. Well, it is now no need to go to India and just symbolized with the cooking pot,” he said.
According to Sutama, the purification could be made without being officiated over by temple priest and higher priest (pedanda). The oblation in use could be as simple as canang and incense and heading for shower. In the science of therapy, water was a means and a path to religious-magic realm. “Purification in connection with traditional healing uses water called mebayuh or mapugpug with specific oblations. It is mentioned in the manuscript of Usada We or Usada Banyu,” he explained. In the era of modernization, the purification for health purposes is implemented through spa therapy. Flower bathing and taking a bath in the shower are method of healing through water. This tradition has been existed in earlier times and mentioned in the Usada Banyu palm-leaf manuscript. (BTN/015)