A Balinese funeral is a unique combination of the spirituality of Buddhist and Hindu rites which celebrate a person’s time on Earth and, more importantly, their transition to a life after death.

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Various elements of the funeral ceremony are spaced out over seven days. At one point relatives of the deceased walk around the funeral pyre carrying offerings and pictures of relatives

Tourists will be aware of the funeral ‘season’ on the tropical island by the visible presence of massive bamboo towers which will convey a body to a cremation. But these prominent structures are for wealthy Balinese. In most villages and towns throughout the island the cost of a funeral is shared between several families.

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The first part of the funeral starts, at about 3a.m. Each relative is disinterred and carefully wrapped in a white sheet before before lifted from the temporary grave and taken to an area of cemetery for cleaning.  There is a pervading,  sweet, smell of decay in the still morning air.

In a small coastal town which I look on as second home, a mass cremation is held about every three years. When a family member dies they are buried in a grave in the local cemetery.

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Family members take the skeletal remains, wrapped in a sheet, to an area for washing and preparing for the cremation.

This is a temporary resting place. Over three years enough relatives are ready to move on to a new life. In this ceremony, held in June last year (2016), 98 were cremated.

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During a ritual washing the skull is passed to family members to be kissed. 

The ceremonial process took seven days culminating in the Ngaben, the cremation, after which the ashes are divided between family members and taken to sea for a final scattering on the element of water, in this case the Badung Strait.

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Skeletal remains are ceremoniously laid out and scattered with flowers before being wrapped ready for cremation.
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As family names are called relatives carry their body,  ready for cremation, to be placed on the funeral pyre 
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A body is carried by family members to the funeral pyre
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Early in the day of the cremation a procession leaves the local temple. On this day effigies of 98 relatives were carried through the town.
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Hot, humid, days make it necessary for an occasional rest
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A priest from the temple blesses the pyre before the cremation

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One thought on “Bali Funeral

  1. Roger, your photography & words paint a rich cultural picture of life after death in Bali.
    Thank you for sharing the experience so explicitly.

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