Tirta Empul & Bali’s Healing Holy Water

The Sacred Importance of Holy Water in Bali

All Balinese ceremonies, from everyday offerings in family compounds to extravagant temple feasts, includes holy water. Tirta, or holy water, is seen as a gateway to God, allowing all offerings and humans to receive divine blessings.

Tirtha, or ‘holy water’, has always been a component of Balinese daily life. Bali Hinduism is called in it’s native language as “Agama Tirtha,” or the religion of holy water. It is said to have powerful healing properties and can be used to cleanse energetic and physical impurities, ward off evil or lower energies, and more.

A water blessing is traditionally performed by a priest who sprinkles holy water over the devotee’s head and offers the water to drink three times. Natural springs are the sacred places where the Balinese priests and healers obtain this special holy water that will be blessed before performing the ceremonies. The healing properties of Holy water are so valued that the Balinese will make pilgrimages to  many sacred sites and temples located around Bali to collect different waters that are imbued with special properties depending on where they come from. .

Water in Balinese culture is not only important because it serves as holy water in rituals, but also for its prominent role in the ecosystem. Water is a sign of fertility and prosperity as it is the fundamental building block of life on the island. The Balinese understand that water needs to be revered and used wisely by the communities to ensure a rich harvest of rice which is at the heart of every meal.. They  have created a complex irrigation system, that has been in used for centuries, that distributes the water fairly among all the villager’s fields from the rivers flowing from the mountains into the many rice fields,

You will always find holy shrines next to rivers and water ways as they are deeply revered as sacred sites since they are the life blood of the islands agriculture and religious foundations.

Why is Tirta Empul one of Bali’s Holiest Temples?

Tirta Empul is a sacred temple in Bali that has been a place for spiritual pilgrimage since 926 AD and welcomes both local Balinese people and tourists to explore this unique location.

The temple contains seven holy springs that are reported to have been constructed by The God Indra and are thought to provide blessed water that can cleanse individuals who bathe there.

Tirta Empul is a Hindu temple devoted to Vishnu, the Hindu God of water. Tirta Empul loosely translated means “water gushing from the earth” in Balinese, which is why Tirta Empul is considered a holy spring. The Tirta Empul Temple contains shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, and Mount Batur. It is regarded as one of Bali’s five holiest temples, as well as one of the island’s holiest water sources.

Although it is a sacred place of worship to the locals, tourists from all over the world are welcome to experience the beauty and participate in the purification rituals.

The Tirta Empul Holy Spring Water Purification

The Tirta Empul Holy Water Temple is located near Ubud in the town of Manukaya. Tirta Empul is a vast temple complex that takes at least 30 minutes to an hour to fully visit. Before visiting the premises, as with other temples and sacred locations on the island, you must wear a sarong.

You can wander freely around the temple from here. The temple is divided into three distinct areas Jaba Pura (front courtyard), Jaba Tengah (center courtyard), and Jeroan  (inner courtyard). The most well-known area is Jaba Tengah, which contains the springs and is where the purifying ceremony takes place.

The holy springs within that temple bubble up into a big, crystal-clear pool inside the temple and flow out through 30 waterspouts into the two sacred purifying pools. Long lines of Balinese and Hindu devotees form in the pools to immerse their heads under the waterspouts in a purifying ceremony known as melukat.

Bathers begin on the left side of the pool, standing in waist deep water under the first water spout. They enter the next queue after cleansing themselves under the first spout. They repeat this practice until they have cleansed themselves under all 30 waterspouts.

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