10 February there was a big cremation in Ubud. Ubud still has a royal family and when somebody of this high cast dies, the cremation is very big and well prepared and it is also a huge event for the people and the tourists in the area.
Cremation is one of the important ceremonies in the life of a Balinese person, together with 3-month ceremony, teeth filing ceremony at age 17 and marriage. The upper priest decides when the cremation will take place, it has to be on a certain kind of day according to the Balinese calendar and it costs money for the local community, so often the cremation takes place months or years after someone’s death. The body is buried and the bones are taken up again for the cremation. The ceremony is including a procession through the streets of the village with the body/coffin inside a creation made for the occasion, woman with offerings and gamelan orchestra.
This special ceremony in Ubud was for 3 members of the royal family, they have died in the past period and when the last one died they planned a cremation for the three of them together. The procession was going from center of Ubud, about 1 km down the road to the Ubud temple were the cremation was taking place. The 3 coffins were placed inside 2 enormous towers (2 in one and 1 had a tower by himself) carried by men down to the temple, accompanied with gamelan orchestra and all the people participating in the ceremony, all the tourists and locals in the area. It sure was a spectacular sight and event! Respect to all the men carrying the towers and unbelievable that everything is going ok every time. There is a lot of security and police but everybody does what they want and walk were they want while the procession is going on with the huge creations balancing through the streets, there are not really rules or restrictions on were to walk or what to do. When the men carry the towers they make a fast move, almost running down the street, after about 100 meter they stop for a short brake and continue the run. The gamelan orchestra is playing loud music and dancing and singing.
One of the towers taking of, but first they take a dance running round and round with the tower, this is to mislead the bad spirits so they dont follow the dead bodies to the final destination.
The boys from the orchestra with their load music
Arrived at the temple the bodies are taken out of the towers and placed into 3 cows that were standing on a platform at the temple, the cows are made of wood and different material, hollow inside for these bodies. A lot of men worked on getting the bodies inside the cows and all the offerings brought by the woman. When the bodies were inside, the gamelan orchestra stopped and most people left the area. Probably the ceremony at that point is over and the burning part is not interesting to them. I’d like to stay, but had been standing there for so long already and rain was coming so I also left before they started the burning. Anyway it was a real unique experience! :-) Now we would like to witness a marriage and a 3 month ceremony :-)