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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Roger Garwood started his career in Fleet Street and was a staff member of The Daily Mail (London) prior to joining the French news magazine Paris Match.
He now works as a freelance reporter and photographer, mainly in SE Asia and Australia. His work has appeared in magazines including National Geographic, The Sunday Times (London), Time, Newsweek, Stern and other European and Australian magazines.
In partnership with Trish Ainslie he published several books which deal with traditional Australian lifestyles. His work is in the collections of The National Library, The Australian National Gallery, The National Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, The State Library of Western Australia and private collections.
Influences on his life stems from Somerset Maugham, Graham, Orwell. And others, in particular reading 'The Autobiography of a Super Tramp' by W H Davies. He now to travel light, taking photographs and recording life as a flâneur.
He is a Fellow of the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
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