Ngaben (Traditional Balinese Cremation Ceremony)

Trip Start Mar 04, 2006
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Trip End Feb 01, 2007


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Balinese funeral is a colourful, noisy and exciting event. It's a celebration, as it represents the destruction of the body and the release of the soul so that it can be united with the supreme god. The body is carried to the cremation ground in a multitiered tower made of bamboo, paper, string, tinsel, silk cloth, mirrors, flowers, and anything else bright and colourful. Carried on the shoulders of a group of men, the tower represents the cosmos, and the base - in the shape of a turtle entwined by two snakes - symbolises the foundation of the world. On the base is an open platfom where the body is placed in the space between heaven and earth. The size of the group carrying the body and the number of tiers on the tower vary according to the caste of the deceased. On the way to the cremation ground. the tower is shaken and run around in circles to disorient the spirit of the deceased so that it cannot find its way home, A gamelan orchestra - sprints along behind providing a suitably exciting musical accompaniment. At the cremation ground the body is transferred to a funeral sarcophagus and the whole lot, funeral tower, sarcophagus and body - goes up in flames, finally. the colourful procession heads to the sea or a nearby river to scatter the ashes, Samu the owner of the hostel, was kind enough to invite me, obviously I borrowed a Sarong, to be properly dressed for the occation.
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