Leaving Klungklung, the maddening traffic and choked roadways of Bali conspired to delay our plans to attend the Cremation procession for Jero Kaleron, a member of the Royal family of Peliatan, a small village of artists adjacent to Ubud. The procession, where the giant paper-mache bull sarcophogus and giant bade tower are carried from the Palace to the cremation grounds, had just concluded when we were dropped off. Already the family was removing the deceased's body from it's resting place high in the tower and moving it to the insides of the giant bull sculpture which, once proper last rites and rituals were concluded, would be set ablaze.
|The Bade Tower|
|Transferring the Remains|
|The body now interred within, the bull is readied to be set ablaze|
|Offerings of spit-roast suckling pig to nourish the soul on it's journey into the next life|
Lest you consider my writing about this topic to be on the morbid side, I should tell you that the atmosphere and mood at any Balinese cremation is nothing of the sort. A cremation, for the Balinese, is a joyous occasion... the setting free of the soul from it's earthly cage so that it can return in another and hopefully better circumstance in the next life. I find this take on death to be honest and refreshing. Nothing is hidden from family and friends... no whisking away of the corpse to the funeral parlor where, hidden from view, all sorts of procedures are performed in order to make the body shell "presentable" to the survivors. Upon a death in Bali, the entire family and village is involved in every stage or preparation prior to cremation... from the elaborate, ritual washing of the corpse, dressing it and eventually freeing the soul with fire. All are invited, visitor and community-member alike, to participate in the ceremonies.