Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cremation Ceremony | Bali | Indonesia

It started with a beat. I was laying on the beach, reading a book, when a drum core and complete gamelan marched by down the beach. Aside from reminding me how much I miss college football in the fall, it alerted me to a storm brewing in the distance and I decided to pack it up for the afternoon. As I was walking back to my motorbike, this procession rounded the corner and made its way down the beach. And then, I figured out what it was: a funeral procession.

Without wanting to sound morbid, I admit that I had hoped to see a Balinese cremation before I left the island. When I moved to Indonesia, one of the things my mom recalled from her childhood trip to Bali was the distinct pagentry of such an event. Since it's not exactly something that you look up on a tour, I was fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time!

After observing for a few minutes, the first thing that struck me was how different this cremation was from western-style funerals. This was a celebration not a funeral. In usual Indonesian fashion, the family of the deceased was responsible for entertaining and feeding their community. One of the men who had carried the coffin was kind enough to put up with my less than perfect Indonesian and enlighten me as to the events of the ceremony. Upon removing the coffin from the chariot, the men circled around the pyre several times before lowering the casket into the equine effigy and bestowing blessings upon it.

The male members of the funeral party conducted the blessings and chants. Since this ceremony took place on a very public beach, it was not long before a crowd of curious tourists half surrounded the spectacle. The family, very kindly, did not seem to notice. I was informed that the woman below in white was the widow.

**Please note that below are some images of the cremation that might be considered disturbing by some

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