An Unusual Cremation in Bali is about a family cremation in Bali in 1996. This was no ordinary cremation ritual, as the family had to dig up four of their dead, some of whom had been buried for almost twenty years. During the days leading up to and including the cremation many fascinating rituals and practices took place.
As a friend and guest of the cremation family and a first time visitor to Bali I had no idea what to expect - however, after experiencing the amazing cremation I had hundreds of questions to put to the head of the family, Mr Putu who, with the help of his daughter’s interpretations, kindly answered all my questions.
What beliefs or fears compels a family to dig up the remains of their father, mother and two brothers - almost 20-years after death? Why dismantle the skulls and bones, wash them and then prepare them for cremation?
Can the Balinese people really communicate with their dead family and relatives and how can they be certain that it is their family they are communicating with? What do dead people do in the other place?
Can the Rain-man make rain? Do the Balinese use black and white magic in their day to day lives? Why should any family spend a fortune providing top performers to entertain the spirits of their dead family members, the village ancestors and good and evil spirits?
In western societies, ‘spiritualist specialists’ are often exposed as rip-off merchants and fraudsters, in Bali, they are regarded as gifted people and an essential element of everyday life - why is this so?
We are all going to die, sooner or later, and while a few religions believe in resurrection and the afterlife, many people accept the hard-nosed scientific view that we have no proof of an afterlife and therefore it does not exist. The Balinese believe in a heaven and in reincarnation where there is the chance to live a better life to achieve heaven.
An unusual Cremation in Bali is not an academic work, most of the material in this book is the result of many long discussions with the cremation family, their friends, personal observations and research. The two ‘standard reference’ books on Balinese culture disagree on most matters, so the author accepts the cremation family's version of the events and rituals that took place to complete the family cremation.
I have tried to be as accurate as possible, however, some issues will have been lost during the interpretations and I apologize for any misspelling of the names of Gods, temples and rituals.
Enjoy my unusual cremation experience.
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About the Author
John Hughes was born in Northern Ireland and left home aged 17-years in search of adventure. He has travelled extensively taking a number of overland trips from London to Australia and New Zealand, driving and hitching from Alexandria in Egypt to Cape Town and across Canada from Halifax to Whitehorse in the Yukon.
John has produced travel guides for Sri Lankan Tourist Office, travel book and video for the Ghana Tourist Office and a guide to tourist sights in Beijing. Other projects included travel and culture coffee style books for St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and the Grenadines, Dominica and India.
As a result of first hand experience attending his friend's cremation in Bali, over the period of a week, John felt he should record the event for those who will never have that opportunity.
John Hughes lives in London and his company Buzzword UK currently publishes children's books.