A Cleansing Ritual at Tirta Sudamala

Where To Go | Written By, Life on the Island |

The melukat cleansing ceremony is an important part Balinese ritual, and at Tirta Sudamala holy springs, you too can be purified the Balinese way:

More than half of our bodies are made up of water. This essential liquid is needed by the brain to manufacture hormones, it helps to deliver oxygen to our body parts, regulate our body temperature. It flushes out our systems. Water is the major component in the human body and it plays an important role in our survival.

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The Balinese believe that water is a medium used by the divine to deliver blessings upon those who worship. It is also believed to have the power to cleanse mind, body and soul – essentially purifying the ‘life’ of the body from negative elements, this includes bad luck, dark energy and even sins carried from a previous life. For this very reason, the Balinese consider springs and natural bodies of water, such as rivers or seas, as sacred.

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About 100km north of Denpasar is the landlocked Bangli Regency. People hear about Bangli mainly because of the popular Mount Batur volcano and the beautiful Batur Lake which are found within the Kintamani district of Bangli, but really the regency offers so much more. In Bebalang village, on the banks of the Banyuasri River, there is a spring believed to hold miraculous powers for cleansing and healing. The spring’s name is Tirta Sudamala, Sudamala meaning purification.

These springs, said never to run dry even during a drought, are visited by people who wish to perform cleansing ceremonies and also by those who seek to enjoy the scenery. From the tarmac road you will have to descend some steps to the river bank, where the spring water flows out of 11 pipes at different heights, cascading to join the river waters below.

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People who carry out the cleansing ceremony, known as melukat, begin the procession by praying at the shrine by the river and then continue with dipping their body slowly into the river. The next step is to stand below the shortest pipe and let the water flow over the body, from head to toe. Then, they continue to do the same with the other flows of water,  moving from one pipe to the next, letting the water wash their bodies. The final flow finishes near the shrine, so to finalize this special cleansing another prayer is conducted and then the priest will sprinkle holy water to the head of those who pray. Many Balinese drink the spring water as well, in order to cleanse inside their bodies. Importantly, pregnant ladies should not join the cleansing ritual, as it is believed to cause stillbirths and abortions (since the ritual cleanses the woman’s body of even the baby).

The crystal clear spring waters are pleasantly cold and refreshing, the surrounding area is green, filled with smells of the jungle and the sounds of the splashing river water. The ambiance itself is serene enough to awaken all of your senses again.

Tirta Sudamala is an interesting place on the island, an opportunity to get back to nature, whilst purifying mind, body ad spirit. It also a great opportunity to witness and practice the beauty of the island’s culture and tradition.

Visitors are more than welcome to go to Tirta Sudamala on their own accord, but Sudamala Suites and Villas Sanur offers a special guided experience for their in-house guests.

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