Well it was a funeral except this funeral was like no other. Everyone was happy and excited and there was lots of colour and celebrations.
This morning I woke up and heard our gang that's usually quiet buzzing with energy. Sadly a few days ago there was a death, an old man who used to sit in our street under a shady tree on a wooden beach. He lived till 84 years old and had a wife that would always sit there by his side.
4 days ago our house maid Wayan said to me "come see my uncle he is sleeping." I had no idea what she meant because she doesn't really speak english. So I got my dad and we walked over to her house that’s next door. I followed her into a room and saw her uncle sleeping on the bed. I was confused at why she wanted me to see someone having a nap. Then her brother came over and said to dad and I that he was dead. I was quite shocked at that considering I’d never seen a dead person before, but I was even more shocked that no one was crying. Every one was happy and excited.
He stayed there for 4 days while everyone prepared his body for a cremation ceremony. Each day we would hear prayers, people singing and our lane way was filled with people wanting to visit him. Then on the fourth day, cremation day, we all woke up early to get dressed in our kebaya’s (ceremonial dresses) and walked over to Wayan’s house.
We sat at her house along with the other 200 guests and ate traditional Balinese food that her husband (who’s a chef) had cooked. Then the body was brought out, wrapped in a sheet and we followed it down our gang (alley).
There were girls wearing beautiful gold and silver dresses and people carrying big flower bowls and fruit bowls as offerings for the gods on their heads. When we reached the main road the body was put into a very ornate structure then picked up and carried by 10 men. Then the procession started. The whole main road of Sanur was blocked off to traffic for 30 minutes as over 200 of us and a full Balinese Gamelin orchestra walked with the body to the cremation site on the beach.
We all waked for about 1km in the middle of the day. I felt really sorry for the guys because the structure is actually massive and extremely heavy so they did a good job carrying it so far in that heat.
Then we finally arrived at the cremation site which is right next to the beach. The boys put the structure down and carried to body to a pyre which was made of bamboo. Then they unwrapped the body and there were more rituals. Being an Aussie I thought some of the things they did were very weird but interesting. One of the things was that they put metal in his mouth to make sure he had strong teeth in the after life!
Then they set the pyre on fire using gas burners and we all stood back and watched his body be cremated. He was actually one of three cremations on that day. After that dad and I left because the heat was too much for me to handle in my dress. It was layers and layers and I was so, so, so hot from the heat. But mum stayed for another 2 hours and said they picked up the ashes, had some rituals and blessings by a priest and took them out in a boat and scattered them into the ocean.
So If you ever visit Bali and come to Sanur be sure to see one of the cremations. They are usually on every Saturday and Sunday and sometimes other days during the week too. Anyone is allowed to go and there are always lots of tourists watching. You can also take pictures and videos, the Balinese don’t mind at all.
And in case you are wondering why they are so happy, it is because in the Hindu religion they believe you will be reincarnated and have a better life. In fact there are some gifted people who are meant to be able to tell who is reincarnated from whom!