The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



Orchestras, baris dancers, and scores of boys carrying spears, banners, and flags, followed bv long lines of women offering-bearers, come at the head of the parade; they represent the retinue of the souls in the effigies which are borne on silver platters on the heads of a specially picked group of beautiful girls in ceremonial full dress - diadems of trembling gold flowers on elaborate arrangements of hair, lacy scarfs binding their breasts, and yellow or green skirts of brocade trailing in the dirt.

Often the effigies of the prominent dead are carried on the arms of the youngest descendant of the family, a boy or a girl dressed in silks and gold, riding on a gilt palanquin and shaded by gilt umbrellas of state. Groups of men relatives close the procession. In Pliatan we once saw some fifty men uniformed in yellow trailing loincloths, magenta breast-cloths, and white head-dresses, all wearing gold krisses, awkwardly conscious of being admired, marching in triple file to the beat of gongs and drums amidst bursting firecrackers.

The procession goes to the priest's house, where he waits to consecrate the effigies through a performance of Maweda, the spoken formula emphasized by gestures of the hands. The priest recites his formulas, flings flowers, and sprinkles holy water towards the effigies, which are reverently held in front of him by the kneeling girls. After the ceremony the procession returns home, stopping along the way in the temple of the family's origin to offer a final prayer. At the house, towards dusk, the baris dancers perform war dances to cast a protecting net of magic vibrations, and shows are given to entertain the guests.

Relatives, guests, and populace spend the night divided between watching an all-night shadow-play and listening to public readings of the Balinese classic Bhima Swarga, the tale of the fantastic adventures of Bhima on his visit to Hades. Tradition prescribes that this should be read aloud from beginning to end on the eve of cremation. In dark corners people huddle to steal naps. Outside, the orchestras, among them the gambang, only heard at cremations, boom and hum throughout the night.

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Seminyak Bali Private Villa