TIRTA WATER PURIFICATION RITUAL: How To Do It Like A Local

We all need to detox, let go of unhealthy diet, habit or mindset that threatens our balance. Health is holistic, and we should pay attention not only to what’s happening physically. More often than not, these symptoms are manifestations of underlying issues that we really need to address. I’m not playing Shaman but based on experience, negative energy can really affect a person physically.

The cold and crystal clear water, it falls gently on the sleeper, cleansing the mind and soothing the soul...
— El Fuego

As I’ve mentioned in my previous postI’ve done a purification ritual on my birthday, in one of Bali’s spiritual destinations, Tirta Water Empul. This temple according to legends not only purifies the soul but also heals the body. Since I always consider my birthday as my official “new year” I thought detoxing would be a good idea. I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve never felt so renewed in my entire life. Most of the time, guides will teach you how to do the procedure properly. It’s not hard to remember, as long as you’re committed to expanding your worldly knowledge. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do the Tirta Water Purification Ritual.

THE PREPARATION

Before going to the temple, drop by at traditional market for your offerings. These are flower assortments, incense, and cake. For females, sorry to disappoint but you are not allowed to enter if you have your monthly period. Most guides will ask you about this, as a sign of respect for Balinese tradition and of course hygienic purposes, please don’t lie about this, no matter how you would love to bathe in the temple. If you’re okay to proceed, you can borrow sarong at the vicinity but I suggest to bring yours. You will need an extra sarong after the ritual, should you wish to explore more of the temple.

THE ALTAR

Before bathing, you need to pray over an altar. You will know which is which, as there’s a pile of offerings on top of it. Start by doing a meditative stance on a platform, in front of the altar. Light an incense, get a flower and clasp it in between the fingers of your praying hand. Close your eyes and say an inaudible “excuse me”, because you’re entering a holy place. After that clip the flower on top of your right ear.

The second and third prayers/intentions are personalized, as long as you’ll pause in between to put a flower on top of your left ear, then on top of your head. Don’t be pressured about what you need to pray for. Honestly when I was there I only said “Thank you” (for what has been and what will be). Take your time and feel the connection with the divine.

THE PURIFICATION

After praying, leave the offering at the altar. You can now proceed at the first pool which is for cleansing of the soul. Each spouts represent different sins. Start with the second one from the left. There are 13 spouts on the first pool, but the 11th and 12th are reserved for funerary rites. Don’t take a bath there.

You need to pray or say your intentions first, then splash water on your face three times. Some guides will tell you to drink too, but please be reminded that the water quality is deteriorating so don’t. After splashing, submerge your head in the water beam, not in the pool. Do the same procedure until the 10th and 13th spout, remember to skip the 11th and 12th.

When you’re done on the first pool, go to the mini pool which focuses on stripping the karmic consequences, from our wrong doings. Do the same process. Finish it off by going to the third pool which is considered as the most powerful one. It is the one that heals illness especially the left most fountain. This time you need to start from the far right, skip the third fountain (the one with a tomb like carving on top of it) then do the same bathing process until you reach the spout on the far left.

Last 2017, I was fortunate to participate in a ritual done in Jeroan (inner yard) too. Before the ceremony ends, the priest sprinkled holy water on me and put soaked rice grain on my forehead. I have no photos of it because my guide joined the ceremony too, but I hope your guide can convince the priests to let you in, it will make you experience Tirta Water Empul hundred percent.

The Tirta Water Empul purification ritual is an important part of Balinese tradition, and I understand why. There’s something uplifting to it, like you’re being brought closer to the source. It is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back to the island. It strips away any self-inflicted imprisonment I have, heals emotional wounds and pull me back to my core.

Have you tried a purification ritual before? Share in the comments below!