BLOG: The procession and cremation

Denpasar Travel Blog

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The bade (funeral tower on which the body is transported) is only ceremonial; it is not burnt. The pyre is in the background where the smoke is. (Scanned photo, apologies for poor quality).


At midday the crowd organised themselves into formation outside the house.  Family members carried the coffin out of the house and loaded it on to the funeral tower.  The procession was led by the angklung orchestra with its percussive yet delicate tones.  Immediately behind was the procession of people carrying a white banner (lancingan) over their heads, symbolizing their participation in carrying the funeral tower behind them.  The tower and body is then followed by the gamelan orchestra.

At the first junction, the platform was spun and tilted wildly to disorientate the spirit so that it would not return home.  This little frenzy is quite exciting as the eldest son of the deceased was on the tower with the body, and had to hang on tight.

Procession carrying the lancingan or white banner. (Scanned photo, apologies for poor quality).
  And let's not forget the need to dodge low power lines!  All through this, there was plenty of holy water sprinkled all around to dowse the crowd. 

At the cremation site, the body was put on the pyre and again lots of holy water.  Everyone was invited to view the body and take group photos!  This (and the visit to the home of the deceased) represented the height of our discomfort with the whole experience.  Throughout, we felt very intrusive as these were what we'd consider a very private family moments.  Our apprehensions were not entirely put to rest despite assurances from many locals.  It did help that most of the village was there rather than just their family. 

The fire was started up ceremonially, then augmented with several gas burners with household gas cylinders attached.  The deed was done in less than an hour ...with men gambling in the adjacent clearing, children playing and others eating, chatting and generally catching up.

 

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As we hopped off the minibus and walked down the street it became apparent where we were headed ... towards the crowd gathered outside a house with a funeral tower (bade) and a gamelan orchestra.  We were invited into the home of the deceased where many friends and family members congregated. 

The deceased was an 80 year old woman who died of natural causes four days ago.  There appeared to be no sign of mourning.  Our guide explained that all mourning is complete by the time of the cremation, and the occasion proceeds without a hint of sadness ... in fact it is described as a celebration.  The Balinese believe that the ceremony frees the soul enabling it to be reborn, and also returns the body into the five elements of air, earth, fire, water and space. 

 

The bade (funeral tower on which t…
The bade (funeral tower on which …
Procession carrying the lancingan …
Procession carrying the lancingan…
Denpasar
photo by: dm_nana