I and my family went to Sanur beach (about 5 km east of Denpasar) yesterday. We joined an annual religious ceremony, called Melasti or Mekiyis. Melasti is usually done a few days before Nyepi (the silent day) or the Balinese New Year.
In Melasti day, all the sacred statues from the temples are brought to the beach or river to be ritual-symbolized bathed. The word of Melasti is derived from two words: Mala = bad/ negative element and Asti = to cleanse/purify. The religious ceremony is aimed to purify all elements, both Buana Alit (our mind/soul) and Buana Agung (the universe), as we are going to welcome our New Year (commenced in Nyepi Day). Hopefully clean mind and universe will be able to get along in this new rough jungle. That’s the philosophical meaning.
Hundreds of people will come and pray together to the God of Baruna ( Hindu Balinese Neptune-God of the sea) as well. Some of them join the procession by walking from the temple. Others (like me and family) came by cars or motorbikes and wait the procession to arrive in the beach. Although, we (the Balinese) do not have a certain rule about the dress code for a religious ceremony, usually white or yellow are preferred, nonetheless other colour will be just fine.
Time for Melasti depends to each villages, it can be started at 2 am (means veery early in the morning) or a suitable-nice-for-you-and-for-me schedule. Like ours yesterday, around 4 in the afternoon. Arriving in the beach, a bit earlier, we had a few time to admire wonderful scene before our eyes. Seeing the blue sea with colorful traditional boats was a nice way of waiting for the Procession.
As you will see in my pictures, a religious ceremony in Bali would not a ceremony without offerings (many of them). Gebogan, the mountain shape offering that is made by arranging fruits, cakes and young coconut leaves decorations. Sparkling tedung (ceremonial umbrella), kober-kober (a long bamboo stem with piece of certain coloured cloth), and other sacred equipments were used in Melasti. Gebogan and other hand-handled equipments are carried on head, it is a symbol of our devotion to the Gods and Goddesses. All offerings are always beautifully made and decorated, using fresh and colourful flowers, young coconut leaves or in the Balinese language called busung that has been created into wonderful shape. It goes the same with the equipments, sculptured in detail, painted in golden, assembled into object of virtu.
Our traditional ceremony is not just a religious substance, it is also about a masterpiece of art, creativity and clearly-expressed culture that is performed by the Balinese as part of their daily life.
This post will be followed by other posts on the Nyepi Day. So, do spare a few minute and visit A Simple Note!