The Function Of Water (Tirtha) In Balinese Hindu Rituals By Ida Ayu Made Puspani and Ni Wayan Sukarini

The Function Of Water (Tirtha) In Balinese Hindu Rituals


Ida Ayu Made Puspani and Ni Wayan Sukarini

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Waters in South and Southeast Asia: Interaction of Culture and Religion

3rd SSEASR Conference, Bali Island, Indonesia

June 3-6, 2009


The Balinese belief and worship of Hindu Dharma in Bali governs all the activities of the daily life of the Balinese. The three basic fundamentals of Hindu Dharma are Yadnya (rituals), Tattwa (philosophy) and Susila (moral behaviour), which are interacted to form Balinese culture.

Hindu religion is originated from India. The practice of the Philosophy in the Balinese Hindu in Bali is almost similar to the practice of Hindu in India whereas in Balinese Hindu is more  attached to the local culture. Basic practice of rituals are based on the Vedas (Holy Manuscript) and the philosophy of Yadnya (rituals ) are also referring to it. There are  five types of Yadnya

( means holy sacrifice with a pure heart)  in Balinese Hindu: 1)Dewa Yadnya: to the Gods and Goddesses as manifestations of the Supreme Being. 2)Pitra Yadnya: to the ancestors who give the people guidance in life and gave them the opportunity to be born. 3) Manusa Yadnya: to protect our lives and those of future generations 4)Rsi Yadnya: to the priests who guide us all on our spiritual journey. 5) Bhuta Yadnya: to any other beings (visible and invisible) to ensure that there will be harmony and unity in nature.

In Hindu believers there are important elements of nature to be considered as the guideline of rituals in retaining the harmonious living of the human being (Nair,2009). Those elements comprise of: earth, water, fire, air, and ether or sky ( which are called as panchamahabhuta).  Among the five elements water is represented by a circle symbolises fullness based on the graphical depiction of panchamahabhuta. Primarily water is the building block of life and all the living beings are at the mercy of God, for the water.

In India as well as in Bali water has been an object of worship from time immemorial, which signifies the non-manifested substratum from which all manifestation arise. This leads the practice of utilizing water as the purification of all rituals. In conducting every religious rite, the presence of holy water is the most important part of all Balinese ceremonies (Agastia, 2007). Holy water accompanies every act of Balinese-Hindu worship from individual devotion at household shrine to island-wide ceremonies.

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