Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beautiful Bali: Similar Practices

In Bali, I was inadvertently reminded of India's most sacred river, the magnificent Ganges.To the Hindus, its water being pure and purifying, is believed to be able to absorb impurities and especially in late May and early June, during the celebration of Ganga Dashahar, it could even remove sins. It is not surprising to see then, thousands, even millions of Hindus, throng places like Gangotri, Haridwar, Prayag or Varanasi so that they could take a dip in the sacred river that flows by these famous tirthas. At Tirtha Empul Temple, there is a similar practice. There is no Ganges to contend with but in a rectangular-shaped pool where the holy water flows, a big crowd, males and females alike, took a dip together, all with the simple and pure motive of wanting to cleanse their sins and avoid misfortune. That this practice has its influence from India is most likely. In the mid-60s, I read in an English textbook of the cleansing rite, Mandi Safar , a practice by the Malays in Melaka, Malaysia. Said to be a festival for young people who traveled to river banks and seasides under the watchful eyes of elderly women to have a ceremonial bathing to cleanse themselves from spiritual impurities, Mandi Safar, has since been banned as it contravenes the teaching of Islam. However, literature from the Internet did mention that it is still practised in places like Tanjong Kling. Each year, on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar in the Muslim Calender, farmers would flock there in their beautifully decorated bullock carts and there will be lots of singing and dancing as people rejoice and  immerse themselves in the sea to ward off misfortune...

Would you like to take a dip here and cleanse your sins?

Traveling Tip: Take a dip!

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