As one of the Manusa Yadnya ceremonies, rituals related to the various stages of a human’s life, melukat is derived from the word lukat taken from the ancient Balinese-Javanese language Kawi, which means dibersihkan, ngicalang in ordinary Balinese language, or to cleanse and purify in English. For Balinese Hindus, melukat ritual is a symbolic and literal cleansing of the body and soul aimed at preventing misfortune and bad luck, including sickness or havoc caused by daily activities and sins.
Melukat can be performed at any time and on any occasion, especially when feeling spiritually unclean. The ritual is usually held at a holy water spring, waterfall or other water source believed to have the appropriate cleansing power and at a place blessed by the deities. Performed usually on full moon nights or when religious ceremonies, melukat is viewed as an effective means of warding off forces having a negative effect on the body and mind.
Many of people flock to Sebatu to perform melukat to welcome the Galungan and Kuningan festivities and the full moon night of Purnama Kedasa, the 10th month of the Balinese calendar. One of the holiest places is Sebatu waterfall near Pura Dalem Pingit and Pura Kusi temples in Sebatu in Gianyar regency, some 11 kilometers from the famed village of Ubud.
Reaching Sebatu waterfall is quite challenging with a walk down hundreds of stone steps heading to the slippery site. Dozens of locals, and even foreign visitors, were seen bathing under the rushing, cold water. A local guard named Made explained that there were several rituals to be performed prior to melukat. First is performing a special prayer at Pura Dalem Pingit, the temple of death, asking for the blessing of the temple’s guardians. A second prayer is required at the nearby Pura Kusi.
After praying at the two temples, another small ritual is performed near the waterfall. After all the preparations are complete, the devotees plunge into the water and allow it to pour over their heads and bodies. For those now facing earthly or spiritual problems, Sebatu waterfall may be a destination worth visiting to perform melukat and purify the body and mind, hopefully bringing a more prosperous and peaceful life.