The Jakarta Post
It was a chilly Sunday morning when hundreds of people braved the cold water in the holy-spring bathing pool at Tirta Empul Temple in Tampak Siring, Gianyar, Bali. They were there for one purpose: to observe a purification tradition called Banyu Pinaruh.
The people shivered as they dipped their heads under the pool’s 26 water fountains, but they were delighted to feel the water splash onto their bodies. This holy water ritual, or melukat, symbolically cleanses the body and soul.
North of Ubud, about a 90-minute drive from Denpasar, Tirta Empul is one of the favorite places for Balinese Hindus to perform melukat. At another location, the sacred Sebatu waterfall, dozens of people were queuing for melukat as well.
Banyu Pinaruh is conducted for many reasons. Balinese Hindus usually go to the sea, a river, a lake or a waterfall for the cleansing ritual, preferably before sunrise.
Banyu Pinaruh is always conducted on the day after Saraswati Day, when Balinese Hindus pray and express their gratitude to the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge.
Consisting of the Balinese words banyu (water) and pinaruh (knowledge) or pengeruwuh (wisdom), the tradition is seen as a way of eliminating negative influences and forces that may impinge on a human’s physical and mental state.