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A Never-Ending Quest for Holy Water  

by on Thursday, 18 January 2007No Comment | 2,201 views

Holy Water is an indispensable part of Balinese Hinduism; the importance of Holy Water is shown by the older generation of Balinese who still calls the Balinese Hinduism as ‘Agama Tirtha‘, (the religion of Holy Water). No ceremony in Balinese Hinduism can be called perfect or finish without the presence of Holy Water. If a Balinese cannot attend a temple ceremony or other kind of ceremony, he simply asks for Holy Water that is obtained from the temple where the ceremony is held or the Holy Water that is distributed in other kind of ceremony.

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Obtaining Holy Water is an obligatory part of every ceremony in Bali. For a small ceremony in a household compound, the Holy Water is usually obtained from a high priest, for a bigger ceremony in a household compound the Holy Water is usually obtained from the nearby Holy spring (beji). For a small ceremony in a temple, the Holy Water is usually obtained from the nearby Holy spring (beji) but for a bigger ceremony, it is obtained from the sea. For a grand ceremony such as Eka Dasa Rudra (centennial purification of the universe), the Holy Water is not just obtained from the sea but also from the Mount Semeru in East Java and Mount Rinjani in Lombok.

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A special Holy Water is needed for a special condition or ceremony. Holy Water from a puppet master (dalang wayang) is needed by a baby who born in 27th week of traditional Balinese Pawukon Cycle calendar. This week is called ‘Wuku Wayang‘ (‘wuku‘ means week and ‘wayang‘ means puppet) and considered as dangerous week that brings a lot of misfortune to the people who born in this week. The Holy Water from a puppet master is believed by the Balinese to have a magical power to negate the misfortune of this week.

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A special Holy Water is also needed in cremation ceremony. This Holy Water is called ‘Toya Penembak’, or ‘shooting water’. This Holy Water is obtained in a unique way, the quest for this Holy Water need a lot of courage and calmness. This Holy Water must be obtained from the river in the middle of the night by one of the family members of the deceased. Since the Balinese believes that the river especially at night is a spooky place, inhabited by the spiritual being from underworld and no Balinese will come to this place at night this quest for Holy Water is not an easy task. In Bali, sometimes the love of the family members to the deceased is measured by obtaining this Holy Water.

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Holy Water also serves as a medicine for sickness caused by magical power, or the wrath of the God. A sickness caused by a magical power is cured by Holy Water from a witch doctor or shaman. For the sickness caused by the wrath of God, a Holy Water from the temple in which the angry God resides is needed to cure this kind sickness, this Holy Water is usually obtained by presenting some offerings in the respective temple.

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