Traditions & Beliefs | Balinese Cremation Ceremony

Traditions & Beliefs | Balinese Cremation Ceremony

While vacationing on the island of Bali, Indonesia, an ICS team member was invited to view a Balinese cremation ceremony.

The cremation ceremony is extremely important for the Balinese because it allows the soul to be released into the afterlife.

The higher the rank, the more elaborate the preparations and decorations required.

The deceased is placed inside a coffin at the beginning of the ceremony.  The coffin is then placed inside a sarcophagus and carried to the cremation site.

An elaborate, bamboo structure – created especially for this ritual – carries the sarcophagus as well as various family members and important guests.  Other members of the ceremony carry the bamboo structure (including all passengers) on their shoulders all the way to the cremation site.  The procession is an event unto itself.  In order to avoid evil spirits, the processional route is full of starts and stops, twists and turns.

Once the whole party has reached the site, the final stage of the ritual begins.  A dance and other ceremonies are performed and the sarcophagus is burned.  Being cremated is one of the most important parts of Balinese life.  The fire is viewed as necessary to free the spirit from the body and enable reincarnation. Balinese believe the body must be consumed by fire for the soul to return to its five constituent elements known as the panca maha bhita (earth, wind, fire, water and ether).


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