Melasti Ritual: Bali
The Melasti Ritual occurs the day before Nyepi. Everybody knows that the day of Nyepi is a day of silence, but, the day of Melasti is far from that and especially at night. It is a day when the villagers purify the deities – known as ‘Pratima’ – with water. This is the day when the villagers, dressed in their finery and carrying long-poled umbrellas, proceed in lines towards a source of water – a holy spring or the sea. In this procession, the women carry offerings of fruit and sweet cakes and flowers, and the men carry the sacred family statues on bamboo litters. Upon arriving at the water source (generally the sea), the pedanda prays and rings his small bells whilst the men carrying the litters rush the sacred figures into the water symbolically washing them and thus purifying the statues.
On the day of Melasti, you will also find the offerings of the flesh of domestic animals at crossroads – the haven of the evil spirits ‘bhuta and ‘kala’. The offering of flesh is to placate these demons. Later in the evening, all hell breaks loose with all manner of noise and din created to awaken all the evil spirits and demons. This is the most spectacular part of this day.