BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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THE AFTERMATH

To have got rid of the corpse that, with its uncleanliness, bound the soul to the material world, despite the strenuous sacrifices of the family and the countless rites performed does not yet mean that the duties of the descendants are over. It is now essential that the liberated soul be consecrated by further ceremonies, often even more elaborate than the cremation itself, as one of the pitara, the full-fledged ancestral deities. After this the soul receives the name of Dewa Yang, literally a " God," and is allotted a resting-place in the family temple to protect the household.

There are further minor ceremonies within the next twelve days after the remains have been disposed of, such as the metuhun, when the relatives congregate and through a medium, usually a medicine-man, a balian in a trance, communicate with the soul to ask if all is well. I was told that once the balian encountered difficulties in establishing contact with the soul, but an old woman relative suddenly went into ecstasy and spoke to the spirit of the dead man in order to inform the anxious family of the success of the cremation.

Then there are the ngerebuhin, when the soul receives offerings, and the mapegat, the final breaking of the last ties with this earth, symbolized by burning a thread and smashing egg-shells. The relatives, the house, and the precious objects used in the ceremonies that were not meant to be destroyed have still to be cleansed from the impurity they acquired by their contact with the dead. But the greatest of all the funeral ceremonies, the consecration of the soul, is the mukur, when the deceased is symbolized by an object called a " blossom," by means of which the ceremonies are performed.

The mukur takes place forty-two days after the cremation and consists in offerings and magic incantations by the high priest, meritorious acts to help the travelling soul to attain its highest goal, the heaven allotted to it by caste, and to predispose the supreme judges to overlook minor sins and be lenient. There are various heavens, each on a higher and higher level, the stages of the cosmic meru, symbolized by the temple pagodas and by the cremation towers. Each heaven is dedicated to one of the castes: the highest is of course for the Brahmana Siwa, the next for the Brahmana Budda, and the lower ones for the Satrias and Wesias. The common people have to be content to go to the swarga, the purgatory where they enjoy a perfect life in pure Balinese earthly fashion.

The mukur ceremony is extremely complicated, but is, in a way so similar to the cremation itself that a detailed description of it would only result in a repetition of the ceremonies already described. The same guests are entertained, similar offerings and accessories are made, the same priests are engaged, a--id a second tower (bukur) is constructed, this time tall and slender and entirely decorated in white and gold. Again many orchestras and troupes of actors are engaged and pretentious banquets of turtle and roast pig arc served.


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