It’s impossible to spend a day in Bali without running into one of the frequent and festive Hindu ceremonies which animate every moment of the day. The Melasti Ceremony is considered the largest and most important and it is celebrated throughout the island during the three days that precede Nyepi Day (the Hindu New Year), the day of silence that falls annually in either March or April. A folkloristic ritual in which a divinity, a village or divine objects from a temple are purified with holy water from the ocean, or sacred wells, considered “sources of life” (Tirta Amerta) in Hinduism, liberating thoughts, impure actions and negative influences. During Melasti, men carry pratima sanctuaries on their shoulders, traditional umbrellas and holy flags (umbul-umbul), while the women balance copious offerings in the kebaya on their heads. Together, they create a long procession (Mapeed), on foot or in trucks, heading towards the ocean, a lake or other water sources, shrouded in sarongs and traditional head coverings (udeng) accompanied by the sound of the gamelan played by penabuh. Once at the beach sanctuary, offerings and icons are placed on a table to be purified and members of the group sit on the ground with their legs crossed. Then, a Hindu priest spreads the holy water, singing and ringing a bell. At the end of the ceremony, the religious objects are returned to the temple for other phases of the ritual. For Melasti, the entire universe is purified - the souls of people (Bhuwana Alit), as well as the entire world that surrounds them (Bhuwana Agung), distancing negativity and evil spirits.
Thousands of religious pilgrims, visitors and photographers crowd the area of the legendary Tanah Lot, the Hindu temple which floats over the sea, built on a rocky island which can only be reached at low tide.