Bye bye Bali…..

Temple on a rood top in Ubud, Bali

It’s been awhile since I’ve taken to the old key board and penned out of few comments on our travels. Now, where to start….

When we got back to Bali from Gili Meno we had about two months before my sister would be coming for a visit. We stayed in a wonderful homestay for 3 weeks in Ubud in the rice paddies. The owner and his staff were friendly people to talk with and extremely helpful. The homestay had beautiful gardens and a nice swimming pool, that most days we had to ourselves. We wanted to stay longer but they were booked up so we rented an apartment just outside of Ubud in the rice paddies.

The lady we rented from was Wayan and her husband was Wayan….confusing I know. Balinese people name their children depending on the order they are born, and the names are the same for both males and females. The firstborn child is named Wayan, Putu or Gede, the second is named Made or Kadek, the third child goes by Nyoman or Komang, and the fourth is named Ketut. If a family has more than four children, the cycle repeats itself, and the next ‘Wayan’ may be called Wayan Balik, which loosely translates to ‘another Wayan’. However, you might run into people with names that don’t fit into any of these categories. This is probably because they go by their nickname. With so many Wayans and Mades around, is it any wonder that many Balinese adopt nicknames to set themselves apart from the rest? Nicknames in Bali can be based on physical attributes such as Made Gemuk (fat Wayan), character traits like Ketut Santi (peaceful Ketut), or perhaps something arbitrary such as Made Legu (Made mosquito).

Cremation Ceremony

It was a great apartment. We had the upstairs apartment and a young Austrian guy rented the downstairs apartment. We shared a swimming pool… cool is that. I had been lucky so far and hadn’t had any boils. Well, my luck ran out and I was more or less sick with boils most of the time we were staying there. The Balinese like to have lots of babies. It is a very crowded island – 700 people per square kilometres and no proper water sanitation system. No wonder people get boils and other water bourne diseases. Lombok and Java have the same water sanitation problems. We saw a lot of tourists with boil bandaids on them.

David on the other hand was feeling great. We had rented a motorbike for the month. So he ran around all over the place on his motorbike. He was the go-for guy. I would say go-for this go-for that and off he would go.

When we were at the apartment our landlady told us about a celebration that was going to happen the following day. In Bali is seemed like every other day there was a celebration if not everyday. The Balinese like their holidays and like to celebrate everything, a baby being born, a baby being christened, naming of the baby and on and on. It’s funny since everybody knows their name already.

This was a Cremation Ceremony. Every 4 years (or when there are more than 40 bodies) they have a pubic cremation. It’s a celebration of the person’s life and  sending them on to heaven. What a very special event to have been part of and what a beautiful way to send somebody off to heaven.

From Wikipedia;


An elaborately decorated cremation tower, Bali Ngaben, or Cremation Ceremony, is a funeral ritual performed in Bali to send the deceased to the next life. The body of the deceased will be placed as if sleeping, and the family will continue to treat the deceased as sleeping. No tears are shed, because the deceased is only temporarily absent and will reincarnate or find final rest in Moksha (freeing from the reincarnation and death cycle).

The proper day of the ceremony is always a matter of consulting a specialist on ceremony days. On the day of the ceremony, the body of the deceased is placed inside a coffin. This coffin is placed inside a sarcophagus resembling a buffalo (Lembu) or in a temple structure

(Wadah) made of papier-mâché and wood. This sarcophagus is then borne to the cremation site in a procession, which is almost never walked in a straight line. This is done to confuse evil spirits and keep them away from the deceased.

The climax of a Ngaben is the burning of the sarcophagus containing the body of the deceased. The fire is viewed as necessary to free the spirit from the body and enable reincarnation.

Ngaben is not always immediately performed. For members of the elite castes, it is normal to perform the ritual individually for the deceased within three days. People of lower social classes opt for a more economic solution where they first bury the deceased, who is then cremated with the village’s other dead in a mass ceremony.

We thoroughly enjoyed this Ceremony. There were 2 gamelan bands that were amazing percussion bands that kept the mood very festive.

After the Ceremony they burn all bodies and put the ashes in a vessel and float it off to sea.

Next blog up; a month in Bali with my sister.

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