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Smooth Sailing in Sanur!

INDONESIA | Friday, 18 July 2008 | Views [256]

Halo, Halo Merekan!

Guess it is time to update again! So much has happened since the last post but due to limited computer access, I haven't been able to check emails and all that jazz until tonight! I guess I should pick up with Tuesday, which was anthro heaven for me! I was able to attend the funeral procession and cremation of the raja (king) of Indonesia! Not only did the king pass a few months ago, but a fellow king died so this was the largest and most ostentatious funeral/cremation that Indonesian has seen in over twenty years - I was quite lucky to be here... especially since I didn't know when the actual event would take place, considering most Indonesian families bury the dead from a few months up to a few years until they can afford to dig up the body and have a proper party and cremation that they can invite the entire community to. The preparations for the cremation started months ago when the local villages started constructing the necessary floats of sorts that would be used in the procession. This particular cremation had two giant black bulls (we're talking two stories high), a dragon (equally huge), and finally a tower that had to have been a few stories tall (i still don't understand how they were able to carry it down the street without it topping over!). Each float is mostly paper, rope, silk, and any other kind of flashy material that will add intricacy and beauty to the piece (the bulls even had rather detailed cahones with neighboring veins - nothing seemed to be overlooked haha)!

I left Sanur around nine the morning of the cremation and arrived in Ubud around 10.30 when the high Hindu priests were starting to gather in the streets (it was a sea of purple) and divvy up who was going to carry which float (each requiring about 600 people to lift the damned things off the ground and carry a good few kilometers down the jalan-jalans during the procession). After the procession, each float was brought up to the temple where the actual bodies were loaded inside and further processed down to the cemetery to visit the buried dead one last time, before returning back to the center city holy place. After being brought back, everyone present (thousands of people) were ordered to sit lotus position (for hours! ow!) while we looked on and watched the king's soldiers perform their ritual dances accompanied by the traditional gamelan music! After a few hours of varied performances the bodies were taken out of the tower/dragon and cleansed with oils/flowers by the highest Hindu priest in all of Indonesia before each being placed into one of the black bulls (the more infamous king getting the bigger bull of course!). Now the real fun started... after loading the bodies into the bull, a large fire was started under each (at this point it is 7/8 o'clock at night and we've been sitting lotus position for hours and the bums are going numb) and the whole parade (floats and enclosed bodies) were set ablaze (the Balinese believing that cremation is the only way to set the soul free from it's earthly vessel)! It only took a few minutes for everything to be reduced to mere dust on the ground, but God - what a sight to see and what a truly riveting experience to take part in!

After the hoopla of putting out the flames, etc... the ashes were collected, placed in a coconut, and taken to sanur beach where all royal ashes are spread into the sea!

The cremation ceremony and all the smaller aspects I had to leave out for respect of the people taking part in the event, asking that not all parts be publicized/televised.. has truly changed me! You can read all you want about Balinese Hinduism and watch as many gamelan events on you tube as you can handle (trust me, I've checked out every Bali Hindu related book from a variety of libraries and stayed up many a night watching clips)... but nothing compares to being in the moment, truly sharing feelings with fellow man - especially when most of the exchanges I have with the locals are non-verbal as I only studied Bahasa and have yet to get cracking on the Balinese language - which is ten times as complex as Indonesian! although the local Balinese have taken a liking to me and have given me a new name, Made (mah-de)... meaning the second born. I love having a new name, especially since the locals kept calling me Durrrrrla, haha!

Other than the cremation and spending the last few days editing all of the film and photographs i took on Tuesday, I have managed to travel to Kuta and wow! incredible! definitely too great to try to describe with a mere blog.

Last night i was sitting on Kuta Beach having a cold Bintang, watching the sun go down and i felt as whole and as satisfied as I've felt in a long time! i definitely could get used to having a more simple life, where happiness comes from within and not from constantly trying to check off goals and accomplishments! I'm almost positive that after finishing up my two degrees (Anthropology/Asia Pacific) in May, I'll most definitely get my English teaching certificate and just hit southeast Asia for a few years, trading languages with the locals as i seem to have a natural knack of learning languages (my conversational Indonesian is intermediate after less than a week!) and i posses a love for travel greater than i can put into words.

That's all for now. I think tonight, I'll be hanging with the local indos and ozzies, but thank you for all the emails coming in. and no, i haven't forgotten about postcards, just haven't had a chance to sit down and do them.... but i promise to pick up some nice postcards when I head off to Tanelot tomorrow, where I will be getting a proper Hindu blessing!




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