Monday, July 21, 2008

Burn me again

Preparations for the royal cremation in Ubud, Bali. The whole village had to help. The preparations lasted for weeks (pictures above and below).

Animal-shaped sarcophaguses are being built in the temples of Ubud.

Tjokorda Gede Agung Suyasa, who for three decades had served as the bendesa (chief) of Ubud, Bali passed away in March 2008. For four months his body had been placed in a pavilion at his family royal compound while waiting for cremation day. During daylight his body was exposed to the sun, this is at least what our Ubud taxi driver told us, as I asked him how the body was treated to avoid decay.

On 15 July 2008 was his corpse day. This day was set by the complex Balinese calendrical system and decided by a pedanda (priest). Thousands gathered to witness Suyasa's soul released from all ties of this life. His soul is now free, but will soon been captured again in a new body. If it's a human body then we (or the fellows after us) might witness that the same soul will be released again while the body burns.

Photos from Ubud, June 2008.

BTW, the cremation ceremony changed considerably. Pierre Dubois, who lived in Bali from 1827 to 1831, tells us that so called belas would commit suicide to demonstrate their loyality to the person being cremated. A bela always had the right to choose the method of death, which means burning alive would only be one option besides others. (See Pierre Dubois, A Cremation, in: Adrian Vickers (ed.): Travelling to Bali: Four Hundert Years of Journeys. p.89- 101).

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At July 26, 2008 at 10:22 AM, Blogger Rob Baiton said...

nice photos...


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