Cremation Ceremony

Drive two hours due North from Seminyak along dusty roads and through layers of rice patties, and you will find a little village where a man named Gusking lives. We met Gusking along our travels and he humbly invited us to his Great Aunt’s cremation ceremony. The bañar- the group- is welcome to the Hindu ceremony along with friends, which consequently included us. In the Hindu religion, instead of being incinerated so the ashes may be spread, the dead body is burned in order for the soul to separate itself and be released to heaven for reincarnation. Very different from the uncomfortable situation in an urn on a mantelpiece. This is not a time of tears or mourning, as requiems tend to encourage. Rather, it is more of a celebration where Hindu prayers are heard, peaceful and melodious. We walked alongside the bañar, wearing our sarongs, and followed a procession marching the coffin down the street to an open field. The body was set down and offerings from the family were strewn around the perfectly preserved, well-painted body for all to see. Afterwards, following the word of cremation, it was quite literally torched. However instead of in a dark, highly theatrical crematorium, this was out in the open, the air picking up the smoke from the flames. At first, I was unsure of how to feel at seeing a dead body be burned up feet from where I stood, however with the atmosphere of the ritualistic ceremony, I realized I was witnessing something beautiful; something entirely different from my own culture.

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