Most villages in Bali perform a Melasti (or also know as Mekiyis) ritual cleansing of their communities anywhere between 4 to 2 days before Nyepi, the day of total silence. But not so far from Ubud, in the area encompassing Blahbatuh, Keramas , and surroundings, this ritual takes place after Nyepi, on the full moon of the tenth month – purnama kedasa – on Saba beach. Melasti involves everyone in the community, and the village deities Susuhunan are brought down too. Rio Helmi shares some of his images of this (early) morning’s events.
Couldn’t resist a shot of the full moon of the tentth month (Kedasa) setting over a temple gate on the way down to Saba beach.
There’s a huge traffic jam on the road from Blahbatuh down to Saba – we have to cross the Professor Ida Bagus Mantra by-pass (Bali’s ‘superhighway’). There police and the local security pecalang let us across in batches, gamelans and drums at full blasts on the endless stream of trucks and gods – while the commuter traffic backs up for hundreds of meters each time.
above and below: the deities are brought down from the trucks and are carried down to the beach, gamelan marching music crescendoing through the dawn silhouetted palm trees. Below, a barong landung pair stand tall above the procession, their faces just catching the dawn glow.
Above and below: As we finally get to the beach the sun breaks cover – I discover there are already thousands of people and scores of Susuhunan on the beach. They come in waves (sorry, really no pun intended) over a period of two hours. The beach is blanketed in people.
A Brahmin high priest prepares himself for the ritual as the sun rises.
His assistants make sure all the auxiliary rituals and offerings are done while the High Priest performs his mantras and mudras.
Above and Below: All the while, as is typical at these events, on the periphery of the ceremony vendors are plying devotees with all kinds of goods, ranging from food, to sunglasses, to, yes, even brightly dyed baby chicks. (we’re not sure, but it could be that this little boy’s popsicle maybe dyed with the same stuff…).
And three cheers for the local pecalang security guys who make sure that things don’t get too chaotic. (But somehow manage to keep just a little bit of it going just to remind us it’s Bali after all).