John Tyman's
Bali: Ancient and Modern
10. Death and Cremation : 119-123

119. In Bali every stage in life is marked by a ceremony, and the greatest ceremony of all comes at the end Ö and itís expensive. Preparing for a cremation therefore takes years sometimes, and the body will be buried till required. It will be washed, wrapped in a white burial sheet, and interred in the village cemetery Ö till the mourners have enough money and the priest has chosen the exact astrological date for the reincarnation of the soul of the deceased.

120. The body will be carried to the cremation ground on an elaborate platform Ö by men who will stop along the way and spin the body round to confuse any evil spirits trying to gain possession of the body and keep its soul from freedom.

121. At the cemetery the body is transferred to an elaborate coffin or sarcophagus, the shape of which depends on the deceasedís caste. The bull is the commonest form, being a sacred Hindu symbol.

122. The priest will then anoint the body with holy water and set it on fire. Traditionally at this point all those who had carried the body to the cemetery would then rush to a river or pond and jump in, so they could be cleansed of all evil spirits.

123. The funeral platform will later be burnt as well, while the people sing. In Bali cremations are happy occasions. People do not grieve: a person's soul is immortal: the body is just a container Ö discarded when it is no longer required. Death marks the joyous beginning of the soulís journey to another life. Having served their time on earth, bodies are burned to liberate their spirits. Their ashes will be carried to the nearest beach and cast into the water, so that this last remaining mortal dust may vanish forever from the earth.


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