A recent trend of non-Balinese people (including Indonesian celebrities) posting about their experience doing melukat (purification ritual) on their social media accounts has triggered concerns among the country’s leading authority of Hinduism, who denounced the commercialization of the sacred practice.
Local outlets reported that the topic was raised last week by Ngurah Saka, a social media influencer. In a series of tweets, Ngurah addressed Bali tourists and said that paying for melukat is not part of Balinese culture.
“[I’ve become] annoyed with [social media] content that says [one] should pay for melukat,” Ngurah wrote on his Twitter account @ngurahsaka.
Tolong wisatawan yang ke bali, Melukat tapi bayar itu bukan budaya kita,— Bli Saka (@ngurahsaka) May 17, 2022
biar ga salah, melukat itu sakral, ga pake teriak2 nangis2 berkedok healing.
kalian cukup ke Pura atau Tirtha enpul misalnya,
kesal juga liat konten penjelasan melukat itu ada bayarannya.
That one tweet from Ngurah, who has 4,204 followers, has received 1,930 retweets and 6,126 likes as of this article’s publication.
In conclusion, Ngurah criticized the commercialization of spiritual “healing” as part of a new tourism trend in Bali.
I Ketut Pasek Swastika, the deputy of the Bali chapter of the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) who oversees religious and spiritual affairs, said that he was concerned with the so-called phenomenon, citing that melukat is a sacred practice that can only be done by Hindu adherents.
“Non-Hindus are allowed to perform the ritual. [But] it’s called bathing and not melukat. [You] can do it in a pond, a river, a lake, as long as you don’t use the word ‘melukat’ because it’s sacred,” he said.
Several Indonesian celebrities have uploaded their melukat experience on their Instagram accounts. Some of them are known to be a non-Hindu themselves.
Melukat, which involves bathing at a Balinese temple among other intricate steps, has become increasingly popular among tourists who want to embark on a spiritual journey on the Island of Gods.