Balinese Royal Cremation: Facing Cultural Change

Via the International Herald Tribune, an interesting article on a Balinese “royal cremation” of three “royals” and 68 “commoners” that happened yesterday. Royal bodies were burned inside black wooden bulls.

On Tuesday, poised between heaven and earth in the steep funerary tower, Suyasa’s white and gold coffin entered the cremation site, gliding on the backs of its 200 porters as smoothly as if it were on ice.

Porters carried the coffin down a soaring white chute, then paraded it three times around the waiting bull, trailed by men and women with pyramids of offerings on their heads.

On the crematory platform, the hollow back of the bull was opened and the body was placed inside. A second, smaller bull stood by its side holding the body of another royal, Gede Raka.

According to the article, some Balinese think that the grand cremations of their culture are fading away, and yesterday’s ceremony was the last of the great royal cremation ceremonies. An interesting quote:

“Cultures come and go,” he said. “It is just a matter of time. Don’t be afraid of change. There is nothing absolute.”

Fellow Americans/Westerners, can you imagine one of our number facing cultural change with that kind of attitude?

Read the whole article here.

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