As the sunlight turns red in the afternoon, a long line of Balinese sons and daughters dressed in traditional attire form a colorful picture along the road from the Pura Dalem of Guwang Village. Many people gather to witness the joy of Guwang villagers presenting their gratitude to God through the ancient rite called Mepeed Mendak Tirta.

Mepeed Mendak Tirta, which is part of the periodically temple festival of Pura Dalem Desa Guwang, is a procession to fetch holy water at a spring that is held sacred by local villagers. The holy water is used in the closing ceremony where all the god spirits are bid to ascend back to their heavenly abode. The procession is held every 210 days on the Balinese calendar, and falls on the Tuesday three days after the celebration of Kuningan, or 13 days after Galungan.

This glorious ritual is usually followed by some 200 people, ranging from seven years old to the elderly. Anyone in the community may join as long as they are not in a state of ritual taboo (such as bereaved or menstruating).

Mepeed Mendak Tirta is a form of gratitude by the people of Guwang God’s blessings. Unlike the common mepeed procession which is part of big piodalan temple festivals, with ranks of housewives carrying offering on their heads, the Mepeed Mendak Tirta procession is carried out by young men and women dressed in high Balinese dress (payas agung*).

Starting from Pura Dalem Desa Guwang, a golden yellow color will dominate the long line of Guwang teenagers as they line up in pairs and walk barefoot the 1.5 km to the holy spring Beji** Cengcengan in Guwang Village. Although the sunlight beats down on them, their smiles do not fade.

Guwang village is located about 30 km from Denpasar in Gianyar Regency. It has seven banjar adat (traditional communities): Banjar Buluh, Banjar Manikan, Banjar Tegal, Banjar Tatag, Banjar Danginjalan, Banjar Sakih, and Banjar Wangbung. The banjar take turns to perform the rituals of piodalan every six Balinese months. When one banjar is hosting the ceremony, the other communities will come to the temple for praying.

These joyful rituals are part of the unique color of Guwang Village. If you are nearby around Kuningan Day, come witness their happiness!

*Payas agung: very splendid Balinese dress, normally worn by the bride and groom in wedding ceremonies.
**Beji: a sacred spring where the effigies of the gods and other religious paraphernalia are periodically taken to be purified.
Photo courtesy of edwinsanjayaphotograph.blogspot.co.id