The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



Great stages raised high above the ground are built at the house for offerings and for the priest. The altars are higher and more beautifully decorated than ever, the devil offerings more elaborate than before, and the participants wear their best clothes and jewellery, the women adding a band of white cloth and a little fan of white paper worn on the head as a symbol of the purity of the occasion.

The ceremonies begin by the making of new effigies identical to the adegans used for the cremation, which are given life, blessed, purified by the priest, and then " killed " by being burned. The ashes are collected and placed in individual coconut shells with a short stick through their middle. These coconuts are then wrapped in white cloth, decorated with flowers, and provided with a gold knob at the top, a gold ring with a ruby, a string of about two hundred kepengs, an image representing and the dead drawn on a sandalwood slab, and a label of palm-leaf bearing the name of the person. This is the sekar, a " blossom."

When ready, the sekars are placed on silver platters, the relatives make a ceremonial reverence to them, and they are deposited on the high stage, which is now filled with expensive silks and offerings. At the mukur of the Radja of Djerokuta we saw glasses of foreign commodities such as whisky, brandy, and gin.

After the night of vigil spent in watching dramatic performances, listening to music, and so forth, the priest performs his most powerful mantras, the relatives pray, and the sekars are brought down, each member of the family placing one over his or her head to absorb their beneficial influence. They arc then broken up, burned, and the ashes placed again in a new sekar identical with the former. These are placed on the white and gold biers and again a great procession starts off for the sea, often miles away, with the same mad recklessness as when the corpses were carried to be cremated.

The procession stops at the seashore and the sekars are brought down, placed on a boat, and taken out to the open sea, where they are thrown into the waters, far enough so that they will not be washed ashore. The biers are again dismantled and burned. All the accessories are destroyed; nothing must remain, and what is not broken up is burned. Special patrols are appointed to destroy whatever is returned by the waves.

The ceremony over, the happy participants, now relieved of their strenuous duties, take a general bath just at the water's edge, the women unconcerned in a group just a few yards away from the boisterous men, who play and splash in the breaking waves. There is still the long walk home from the shore, and the crowd returns in the blazing midday sun - hot, exhausted, and considerably poorer than before, but in high spirits and happy to have accomplished their greatest duty to those to whom they owe their existence: the consecration of their dead so that they shall continue to guide them as deities in the same way in which, as ordinary human beings, they helped and protected them. All of this has been achieved by the triple purifying action of earth, fire, and water.

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Seminyak Bali Private Villa