BLOG: Background to the Balinese cremation

Denpasar Travel Blog

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I had heard and read about the traditional Balinese cremation since I was a child.  I had seen pictures of elaborate, mass cremations on festival dates.  So, upon arrival in Bali, I kept my eyes open to such opportunities. 


Here's a bit of background ...


Balinese have been Hindus for centuries.  Because of their isolation in the world's most populous Muslim nation, their rites and customs have evolved independently from those in India.  Their cremation ceremony takes three variations: 

  • cremation of the recently deceased,
  • cremation of an exhumed body or
  • cremation of an image (effigy) of a long-deceased person.

Our understanding is that the second and third forms exist for two reasons. There are special auspicious dates for cremation, and among these dates, some are even more auspicious than others.  Secondly, the ceremony is quite elaborate involving many guests from afar, with the host family responsible for food etc.  Delaying the cremation allows the family to save up so that they can fulfil their obligation with grandeur and utmost hospitality.


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photo by: dm_nana