Melasti, a purification festival (above, the men are dipping the temple umbrellas into the sea to cleanse them), is held three days before the Nyepi day of silence in Bali which marks the beginning of the Saka New Year. I witnessed several such ceremonies on Saturday, including a dawn ceremony, at Sanur Beach. Today (Tuesday) is the day of silence, but there are very loud children in the hotel I’m locked up in, so while the rest of the island is in silence, I’m kinda being driven insane by noise. The irony.
You can read more about Melasti and the leadup to Nyepi in this story I wrote for the Jakarta Globe. It’s a very interesting tradition.
Here’s a ton more pictures of the ceremonies after the jump.
Women splashed sea water on the temple instruments to purify them.
People arrive for the ceremony quite literally by the truckload.
I didn’t write about this part of the ceremony in the story, because I didn’t have anyone explain it clearly enough to me to know that what I wrote would be factually correct. But this is what happened. Two men were holding long spears and after a traditional dance and then they seemed to become possessed by evil spirits. They were shaking and screaming and started charging at the crowd until other men grabbed them and held them down in the sand. People, I think their relatives, were crying and wailing. The men eventually became limp, with their eyes closed, like they had fainted. Then others carried the men down took them down to the sea where they washed themselves in the water until they were revived, which is what you can see in the picture above (not well… the man who was seeminly possessed is being carried by the people you can see) Very strange indeed. I’ve never seen anything like it. The first time it happened I thought the man was having a seizure or something, so I didn’t take photos, and the second time I couldn’t get close.
And some pics from the first Melasti ceremony of the day that I went to at dawn (yes, I was up at dawn! I know! OMGWTF!):