Built in around year 960, Tirta Empul Temple, the holy spring temple is still in function until now. More than thousand years, the Balinese come to this temple to do what we called spiritual cleansing or purification ritual.
Arriving at the the main temple entrance, you could see a big banyan tree just in front of it. This tree has been here for at least 200 years. Banyan tree is regarded as sacred tree. You will see them a lot in Bali especially in in temples.
The banyan tree in front of temple entrance.
Walking pass the tree, you can enter the first court yard. A Balinese who come to pray, and dressed in their temple attire, can go right in. For a visitor who do not have this, can put on sarong available left of the entrance. (Sarong is a piece of cloth wrapped on your waist down, just like a skirt)
Entering the first yard, on the right is the temple hall where the people wait for their turn to go the temple main area to perform cleansing ritual.
In the first courtyard, when I was there, I already saw some people who were ready to pray and perform a cleansing ritual. They brought offering which was made from flowers placed in little baskets made of coconut leaves.
The Sacred Pool
The cleansing ritual take place in the second court yard where the three pools are located. The water source of this pool are 33 fountains where water flows through from the main spring in the temple inner courtyard.
The first pool where the locals and the tourist step down to the pool and washed their faces in the water fountais.
A mythical elephant statue that represents guardian spirit of the sacred pool, and the background is the first pool.
The second pool is the little pool in the left, and the third pool is in the right side.
When I was there, I was with a tourist from UK. He said, he wanted to try the cleansing ritual. I helped him preparing offering, incense, getting a sarong for him, bring him to the changing room and hire a locker.
Next, I took him to the sacred pool. Just in front of the pools, there was an altar and a small area where people pray before entering the pools. I told him to sit down cross-legged (meditation pose) to begin meditate, empty his mind, pray to his God (based on his own religion). When he finish, I directed him to the pool. "Can you take photo of me?" he gave his iPhone 7 to me.
"Now please get down to the pools. and walk in front of each fountains, and wash your face 3 times. Think that you are being cleansed." I said.
He stepped down to the pool....
Praying for enlightenment and cleansing.
Take the holy water.
Wash your face with the holy water.
The Inner Court Yard
When finished with the cleansing, people need to change their wet dress or sarong to dry one and continue to the inner court yard. The inner courtyard is the most sacred yard and it is a place for worship. It is also where the spring on which the water come out from the ground.
You can walk closer to the spring, and see how clear the water is. There are also algae growing in the spring which has to be cleaned regularly by the priests.
The water spring in the inner yard which was the water source from more than a thousand years.
The water spring and the shrines in the background covered with white and yellow cloth.
The next step of cleansing ritual is to pray in the inner courtyard. This is intended to thank the God and the universe for all the blessing after performing cleansing ritual.
There are areas where you can walk in the inner courtyard. From there you can see the temple shrines, and activities happen at the temple. There would be people who sit down to pray in front of the altars with priest leading them.
Some people sat in meditation pose to pray, led by a priest.
A closer look to the priest and people praying.
The shrines in the inner yard.
The Balinese musician who dedicated their time to play music.
These are statues that represent guardian spirits that protect the temple.
When I was there, a temple festival was taking placel. This was the reason all the shrines were decorated in white and yellow cloth, the main colors for Bali Hindu temple which represent perfection and holiness.
The Balinese Hindu people believe in the existence of physical and spiritual bodies. Just as physical body need to be cleaned regularly, for example, by taking shower etc, so is the spiritual body. The spiritual body is cleaned by performing cleansing ritual.
They do not come to the temple for the ritual everyday or on a regular schedule, but they know or they can feel when they need to go for the spiritual cleansing.
Thanks for reading.