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Jakarta Post

Melasti in Mimika Harbor

Tue, April 4, 2017   /   05:01 am
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    Balinese Hindus prepare to carry out Melasti rituals. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Papuans watch several Balinese Hindus boarding a boat to collect sea water to be used in Melasti rituals. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    A Balinese Hindu boy uses an umbrella for shelter from the heat. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Timika is cloudy during the Melasti ceremony although weather in the city is usually clear. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Balinese Hindus pray for the Melasti ritual while Kamoro children sit and watch quietly at the Mimika coast. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Kamoro people who are now living in the Pomako Harbor actually came from the coastal area of Mimika. They fled their village due to a conflict among them triggered by village fund mismanagement. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Two women float the offerings out to sea. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Kamoro children eat fruit from the offerings. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    The Melasti rituals at the Pomako Harbour are held at an estuary because there is no open coastal area in Mimika. Most of the coastal areas are mangrove forest and that provides this area with plenty of crabs and fish. But lately, mangrove areas have been decreasing due to, among others, waste disposal through the Ajkwa River. JP/Vembri Waluyas

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    Balinese Hindus in Timika pray as part of the Melasti rituals. JP/Vembri Waluyas

"What ethnicity are those people? Are they Torajan or Javanese? What are they doing here?" asked a man who smelled of alcohol when he saw the many people wearing almost all-white clothes in the harbor. 

"They are Balinese Hindus. They will pray here," I informed the man.

"Why are they praying here?" he asked again.

"They pray for the forests not to be damaged, for plentiful fish and crabs in our estuary and the sea, for the wealth of the people and all creatures. They also seek to ward off greed, envy and hatred that make people suffer," I replied.

"Adoo [ouch], the prayer is mantap [very good]," he stated while making a cross.  

Meanwhile, the sound of Balinese gamelan [traditional orchestra] began and the Balinese Hindus were ready to begin their Melasti rituals at the Mimika Harbor, Papua. 

Melasti is a Hindu Balinese purification ceremony and ritual, which according to the Balinese calendar is held several days prior to the Nyepi holiday. It is observed by Hindus in Indonesia, especially in Bali. Melasti is a ritual carried out to cleanse the world from all the filth of sin and bad karma, through the symbolic act of acquiring the Tirta Amerta or "the water of life."

The Melasti ceremony is held on the beach with the aim of purifying oneself of all the bad things in the past and throwing them into the ocean. In Hinduism, sources of water such as lakes and oceans are considered the source of life. In addition to performing prayers, during the Melasti ceremony, all the sacred objects that belong to a temple, such as pralingga or pratima of Lord Ida Sanghyang Widi Wasa, and all of the sacred equipment, are being cleaned and purified. [yan]