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COVID-19 outbreak affects Melasti purification rituals in Jakarta, Banten

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, March 19, 2020  /  06:33 pm
COVID-19 outbreak affects Melasti purification rituals in Jakarta, Banten

Purification: Balinese Hindus parade along Lembeng Beach in Gianyar, Bali, during Melasti, a purification ceremony, ahead of the holy day of Nyepi. (The Jakarta Post/Agung Parameswara)

The organizers of the purification ritual of Melasti in Jakarta have put a cap on the number of participants because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Jakarta's Indonesian Hindu Religious Council (PHDI) and cultural group Suka Duka Hindu Dharma (SDHD) will allow only 10 participants to carry out the Melasti ceremony, which is slated to take place on Sunday at Segara Temple in Cilincing subdistrict, North Jakarta.

Observed prior to Nyepi (Hindu Day of Silence), which this year will fall on Wednesday, Melasti aims to cleanse temple paraphernalia and usually takes place on beaches, along rivers or at holy springs.

Read also: Thousands flock to Bali's beaches for Melasti purification ritual

The coronavirus epidemic has also forced organizers to cancel the ogoh-ogoh (usually menacing giant effigies) parade, which aims to prevent bhuta kala (evil spirits) from disturbing the commemoration of Nyepi. 

In Banten, the organizers of another Melasti ceremony have decided to cancel the Sunday event entirely and will arrange for the distribution of holy water to followers at all temples in the province.

A gathering called Dharma Santi in Banten, which was scheduled for April 5, has also been postponed.

During Nyepi, Hindus are required to stay at home and reflect on themselves without enjoying any form of entertainment. 

Last week, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan urged Jakartans to avoid public gatherings, including religious events, to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (wir/kes)

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