Melaspas : Bali’s House Blessing Ceremony
It seems there is a ceremony for everything in Bali! Another ceremony you’ll find on the Island of the Gods is a house blessing ceremony, known locally as Melaspas.
This involves a priest, prayers and offerings that will cleanse every corner of the house and its compound. The Melaspas ceremony is mandatory before moving into a new home, office, shop factory etc.
In Bali, there is a constant battle between good and evil. Prayers, rituals and ceremonies therefore not only aim to invite or thank positive forces, but also aim to placate negative forces.
A Melaspas Ceremony is done to cleanse a new building before it is used; the name comes from two words: mela meaning bad or negative; and pas, meaning to purify or cleanse. This is done by removing the bhuta kala (negative elements) through bhuta yadnya,
Whilst rituals like the daily offerings of canang in small shrines, on the roads etc, are done by the everyday people, a Melaspas Ceremony must be done by a priest. Depending on the size of the building, or indeed the status of the one needing the ceremony, the Melaspas can be done by a pemangku (temple priest) or by a pedanda [pedande] (high priest).
The priest, along with his or her helper, will present many offerings (banten), often near the building’s shrine. The priest will chant and pray out loud, his prayer bell constantly ringing within the walls.
However other elements are found during the melaspas: the ceremony re-incarnates all the inanimate objects that have been cut down, mined, and forged, in the house, bringing them back to life. The wood, stone, tiles and thatch are symbolically unified to become a whole, living entity.
Of course, the rituals around the island are not 100% uniform, in different areas you may find a slightly different version.
In Ubud, for example, the Melaspas Ceremony involves the future inhabitants to walk around or to all corners of the property, bringing offerings on their heads, or using cleaning tools to ‘sweep’ the house to symbolically clean the inside area.
At the end of the ceremony, everyone is invited to pray together. Then, if all the rituals were completed correctly, the house will be cleared from bhuta kala and will be blessed with good fortune.