Finally the long awaited day has arrived: The day of the melaspas ceremony for the new health post in the hills of Lipah. Melaspas is a religious ceremony that must be held for every new building. Construction work disturbs the harmony of a place: plants are dug out, the ground is torn open and a foreign element is planted there. In order to restore balance and harmony, this very ceremony is needed. It must take place on a suitable day, determined in our case by the village priest Made Sudarma. It is also important that those who have carried out or ordered the construction work participate in the ceremony. All other participants apart from the priest and his helpers are optional.
However, the offerings are not optional. Depending on the size of the building, what and how much of it is required is exactly specified. In our case it took 1 babi guling, 2 chickens, some eggs and several baskets with flowers as well as complicated cut decorations and bamboo straws. Other essential utensils are a vessel of holy water, many incense sticks, a pretty yellow-white skirt for the new temple, which was also decorated with a white parasol, and the obligatory bell of the priest, which is used extensively during the ceremony. Yes, you have read correctly: The new temple. In Bali there is no building without a temple. Without it the infirmary would have a short life, because nobody would enter it.
Around this new, beautifully decorated temple, on the morning of October 27th, the aforementioned offerings are spread out, as we arrive at the site of the event at the agreed time, panting slightly from the steep ascent. Our friend Made Sudarma, the village priest, sits cross-legged in front of the temple. The ceremony has already begun, typical for the Balinese tendency towards temporal relativity. Since we are important players in the ceremony as representatives of the builders, however, the process was interrupted at the decisive point in order to wait for us. When we arrive, the ceremony continues. While Made prays, his helpers give each participant a canang sari, a woven bamboo basket with different coloured petals, and an incense stick. New villagers are constantly arriving and sitting down. The kepala of the village and the team of the nursing staff of the Kita Peduli Foundation join us. Initially 5 participants quickly turn into more than 30. Now we pray together. You hold a few coloured petals between the fingertips of the folded palms of your hands. The hands are then raised to the forehead in the typical Balinese gesture. The height is very important: As a greeting gesture you normally lift your hands to your chin, but when you greet the gods you lift them up to your forehead. Then each participant is sprayed three times with the holy water, must drink three drops of the holy water and finally stroke it over his or her head.
A bit later the ceremony is finished. We invite all participants to our home, where the babi guling, the crispy suckling pig that was already present at the ceremony, will be eaten enthusiastically. In no time at all, the piglet and all other ingredients are brought to our house on motorbikes. We arrive last on foot. The babi is already being expertly cut, someone has brought delicious Balinese Sambel, Ibu Jero Wimega conjures up a whole plate with Urab on the table, the popular vegetable dish made of beans, grated coconut and many spices, and two large buckets of rice are already waiting. Everybody is helping. Also with the meal. Any leftovers are taken home in doggy bags, so the families can also enoy the feast.
We see satisfied faces all around, not only because of the food but also because of the blessing of the rumah sehat, since some of those present today will probably visit it one day or another.