Air Suci – A Cleansing Blessing With Holy Water

Spa | Written By, NOW! BALI |

Bali has a Hindu religion based on water. While everyday water is known as Yeh, holy water is known as Tirtha  and Agama Tirtha is based on the use of holy water for blessings in every part of life. It plays a vital role in the Balinese life cycle – from the blessings of family rice fields before planting and harvesting, for starting a new building, for marriage, birth, temple ceremonies and every day rituals. Every Balinese person uses holy water. The water gets rid of evil and adds a protective aura.

TEXT & photos by ayu sekar

Bali has a Hindu religion based on water. While everyday water is known as Yeh, holy water is known as Tirtha  and Agama Tirtha is based on the use of holy water for blessings in every part of life. It plays a vital role in the Balinese life cycle – from the blessings of family rice fields before planting and harvesting, for starting a new building, for marriage, birth, temple ceremonies and every day rituals. Every Balinese person uses holy water. The water gets rid of evil and adds a protective aura. 

Many temples are built around ancient springs such as those at Tirta Empul and Gunung Kawi, both located in Tampaksiring, on the way to Kintamani. They are part of an ancient 11th century complex of temples along the Pakrisan River, one of the first holy sites to be established on the island.

Close to the main temple in Tirta Empul is a more ancient temple, where water rushes through a dozen streams and subak channels. Pure spring water gushes up from the rocks, which in other parts of the archipelago would have been channelled into plastic bottles. 

Here it has one use – ritual. The power of this temple is palpable. In a deep ravine surrounded by huge banyan trees the sounds of the water is cleansing in itself as it blots out all other sound – a watery white noise. It is a holy place.

Several permangkus use this place for cleansing ceremonies (although there are myriad other magical spots dotted around the island). Before praying, a ritual cleansing bath in the holy stream  or pool is required. Some of the ceremonies require up to nine immersions which can be very refreshing when up in the mountains!

Then prayers are offered together with offerings and incense, either in a group or individually. The sounds of the gushing water, the acrid scent of incense the chanting and the sound of the bell ringing clearly – it is all a very heady experience. 

After the cleansing, you can feel light and cleansed spiritually and emotionally and as you slowly return to daily life, it can be with an added joie de vivre, not to mention gratefulness – just one of the special secret things of Bali.

You can ask at your hotel if you would like to make a blessing ceremony or a cleansing. Or call Pakman – a priest and healer from Tampaksiring, who now lives in Ubud. T: 081338935369 

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