BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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THE SOUL

By this time the corpse has lost all importance, and from this time on, the family is concerned entirely with the soul of the dead person. A most important accessory for the ensuing ceremonies, and the object around which the rites revolve, is the adegan, the effigy in which the soul is embodied to be purified. The adegan consists of two images, one silhouetted out of palmleaf in the traditional tjili shape, and a more realistic one drawn on a thin tablet of sandalwood, bound together and placed on a silver vase that rests on a silver platter.

Betel-nut, sirih leaves and flowers for praying are placed inside the vase to make the soul comfortable and, nothing being too good for it, the well to-do add a third image made of beaten gold, bracelets, anklets, and a comb of silver or gold. The person's name is written on a small label of palm-leaf attached to each adegan. There is an effigy for each corpse, but only the adegan is used should no remains be available; for instance, if no bones should be found on opening the grave, if its location has been forgotten, or if the person died at sea or in a foreign land.

The souls are provided daily with " drinks," holy water from sacred springs. Processions go regularly to distant mountain springs to fill the new clay pots inscribed with a lotus and the sacred syllable ong, while someone casts coins into the waters and recites prayers for the spirit of the spring. Rolls of ancient " black " coppers are tied to the neck of each pot with the special white yarn used in ritual, and each pot is provided with a label bearing the name of the dead. The pots of holy water are then deposited on the pavilions where the bodies lie.

The elusive souls are next " awakened " and captured in the effigies. They are taken to the burial ground, and the company kneels in front of the open graves, strewing offerings on the ground and singing songs. The men dig the earth a little, knocking upon it, and call the souls to awaken, while someone scatters pennies to distract the devils that wait ready to pounce upon the effigies and pollute them.

The procession returns home, each effigy, now incorporating a soul, carried on the head of a girl, to be blessed in the shrine of each household. Each effigy is then " cured " as if it were a corpse: it is sprinkled with holy water, the various ingredients (banten sutji) to attain physical perfection (shreds of mirror, flowers, a gold ring, nails, etc.) are placed over it, the egg rolled along its length, and it is decorated with gold and silver objects. The cured effigies are placed near the corpses, wayang music is played, and the little egg-shell lamps of the angenans are lit for the night.

The ceremonies acquire greater significance as the date for the cremation approaches. A great procession is held on the eve of the cremation day to take the effigies to the house of the high priest for their final blessing. It is important that this procession be grand and luxurious, and all the relatives of the dead parade in it dressed in the finest clothes obtainable, with brocades, gold flowers, jewellery, and jewelled krisses much in evidence.

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