Insights about the Purification Ceremony Tradition known as Melukat

By Catur, 2024.05.03

Indonesian boy is taking part in Melukat

Immersing yourself in Balinese culture is surely one of the ways to gain a complete experience of Bali. There are several ways to indulge in the spiritual tourism of Bali, but Melukat should be high on your list. The ancient ritual of the Melukat tradition in Bali has been known for centuries and is part of the Hinduism practiced by the Balinese people. This is a ritual that even attracted Usher, the American R&B superstar, when he visited Bali just a few months ago in March 2024.  Find out more about this Bali cleansing ritual by reading this article.

The concept of melukat may appeal to visitors, which is why tourists are interested in the ritual and often want to participate. The government also uses this purification ceremony to promote tourism in Bali. During the upcoming World Water Forum, the Bali government is allowing 30,000 participants to experience this physically and spiritually recharging tourism activity as part of a wider wellness agenda.

What is the Melukat tradition?

A man pours water on himself during the Purification Ceremony

Melukat comes from the Balinese word ‘su’, which means good, and ‘lukat’, which means purify. Together, ‘sulukat’ is translated as purification. The melukat tradition has been passed down through generations of Balinese to help cleanse body, mind, and soul from evil thoughts and negative forces by using water.

Whether you’re an expat, a resident, or a tourist, this purification ritual cannot be carried out without the assistance of a Balinese priest or pemangku. The Melukat ceremony requires some key steps and the pemangku will perform ritual prayers blended with singing in Balinese to guide you spiritually. For this reason, you can’t perform the ritual by yourself.

Should you complete the Melukat ritual at a temple in Bali?

Melukat is usually practiced within the holy sites inside the temple complex in Bali, even though it can be done using any water source, like rivers, waterfalls, oceans, and lakes. This ensures that you get the maximum benefits of the spiritual experience gained from the melukat ceremony. Ideally, and most of the time, most Balinese practice this sacred tradition near the holy springs.

Is there any specific time to do the Melukat ceremony?

People are taking part in Melukat ceremony

If you’re interested in having a spiritual experience through melukat, then there are better times to participate in this authentic Balinese ritual.

Based on the Balinese calendar, melukat is best performed on special Hindu days, such as during the full moons, Tilem, and Kajeng Kliwon. You will see many locals in the natural springs across the island on those special days.

What you need to prepare before the Melukat ritual

Since Melukat is a Hindu tradition, there are several things to pay attention to before you jump into this ritual.

The steps of the purification ritual

The man is folwing all the steps of Melukat ritual

Once everything is ready, the pemangku will start the process of melukat.

  1. The Balinese priest will talk to you to help you relax before the ritual begins
  2. Once you’re ready, he will start the prayer chant and wash you with coconut water or holy water as a symbol to remove any negative energy from your body
  3. After this, you’ll usually feel the urge to vent. There are examples of people who cry, shout, or laugh, and this is advised by pemangku
  4. The last step is to bathe yourself in the spring, waterfall, or river to bring blessings into your body and soul

The sacred places to experience the Melukat

Theoretically, melukat can be performed anywhere as long as there is a flow of water. Nevertheless, local residents and tourists usually go to the following places to have melukat.

Visiting Bali is not just about the beach or partying, it’s also a great way to pursue spiritual tourism, such as by participating in the melukat tradition. Balinese Hindu believes in the balance of tri guna – which influences and shapes a person’s character. The imbalance of the tri guna, or three characteristics, will cause disruptions in our lives, which is why melukat works to balance these aspects.


The author of the project On Bali

Hi everyone! My name is Catur, and I was born and raised in Central Java. I moved to Bali in 2011 but left the island in 2016 before returning in 2018. Bali feels more than a home to me, and maybe that’s why my name feels like a premonition. Catur means four, both in the Balinese and Javanese languages. It is spoken like ‘c’ in chess, which is also the meaning of my name in Indonesian.

Date of Last Update: May 22, 2024