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Spiritually Unclean  

by on Monday, 5 March 2007No Comment | 2,977 views

In every temple in Bali that has an additional function as a tourism destination, a prohibition board is posted in front of the temple, and the purpose of this prohibition board is to prohibit menstruating women and recently bereaved people to enter the temple complex. Why menstruating women and recently bereaved people are not allowed to enter the temple?


Balinese draw a clear line between holy and profane. Temple is a holy place, a spiritually unclean person is believed by the Balinese to be a threat to the holiness of the temple. Balinese will do their utmost to preserve the holiness of their temple. Prohibitions that are written in the prohibition board are nonnegotiable.


These kind prohibitions are based on Balinese concept of cuntaka. Cuntaka can be defined as spiritually unclean state because of death, menstruation or other factors. Another approach to cuntaka is a disharmonious state for example a recently bereaved people is considered in a state of disharmonious feeling because of grief. Most of Balinese use the first the definition to define the cuntaka.

Uluwatu Temple

Not just the recently bereaved people and menstruating women that is considered spiritually unclean. A woman that gave birth, or underwent an abortion recently along with her husband is considered to be spiritually unclean. Incest, sexual intercourse with non-spouse partner or animal will also create a spiritually unclean state to the doers and their neighborhood. Person who commits six deadly sins – arson, practicing black magic, run amuck, rape, perjury, and using poison- is considered cuntaka. Insane man, people with contagious disease such as leprosy are also considered to be spiritually unclean.

Tanah Lot Temple

Except for the cuntaka that caused by the contagious disease and unbalance mental condition, this spiritually unclean state does not last forever. Cuntaka that is caused by death of a family member will last 42 days, menstruating women is free from cuntaka as soon as their period is over. The cuntaka for a woman that gave birth, or underwent an abortion and her husband is last for 42 days. The cuntaka for person who commits incest, sexual intercourse with non-spouse partner or animal or commits six deadly sins will be over as soon as he performs a required cleansing ceremony.

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