Ubud Royal Cremation 1998

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 Royal Cremation


The gentlemen of the Banjar prepare to construct the sarcophagus for the cremation of the Sister in law of the last King of Ubud.  Work continued for many days,  the head and legs were carved from wood and the body was shaped with woven bamboo.  The bamboo was then covered with Hessian, foam and finally black fabric.   A strong bamboo frame was constructed under the base and the bull was completed with the addition of  elaborate gold and jewel coloured decorations

While the sarcophagus was being built along Jalan Raya, elsewhere a royal wada of a height and richness of decoration appropriate for a member of the ex royal family was being constructed

On its back is the mask of Bhoma, the Son of Earth, who invites all to rejoice in the  liberation of the soul of the departed and subsequent reincarnation in another shape

The bull and the wada had been moved to the recently washed road beside the Royal Palace. The bearers, wearing the white head bands of mourning,  lift the sarcophagus and set off for the cremation site
 Barbara found a local civil servant turned tourist guide to explain the cremation rituals to her and assure us our presence was welcome and that there was no problem with photography here, or at the cemetery
Meanwhile those honoured with the task, brought the remains to the wada and placed them on the central platform, representing a home between heaven and earth and secured it for the procession to the cemetery 
The wada was raised and whirled around to confuse the spirit and prevent its return to its former life and in the process to terrify unsuspecting tourists who scattered out of its way much to the amusement of the Balinese. 
Friends and relatives holding long strips of cloth attached to the wada guided the spirit in procession to the pyre.   It is a great honour to act as bearer and teams of a hundred or more change frequently to give all a chance to serve


At the cremation site the body, wrapped in cloth was transferred to the sarcophagus, blessed for the last time and the offering vases broken.  The bull and wada were quickly engulfed in flames.

 Eventually the ashes were collected in coconut shells, later to be throw over the sea or into a stream in the final ceremony, the Mukur (see Nusa Dua)

The fires were fuelled with dried palms.  Pallbearers poured gasoline through a bamboo tube to encourage burning
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