2015-11-04

Cremation on a Bali Beach

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

Sitting in a pleasant warung one morning when I heard clanging of gongs and rhythm of drums; looked out to see a street procession . . . .

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.10.06 pm

On asking the waitress I learned it was a cremation and I could go and see the ceremony on the beach just around the corner.

Come to Bali! Relax on the beaches. Witness cremations.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.14.59 pm

By the time I arrived the body had been taken down from its carriage; some of those in the procession were sheltering in the shade.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.18.29 pm
Others were crowding around the body to lay on it their parting gifts and offerings.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.43.59 pm

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.26.00 pm

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.28.23 pm

It’s thirsty work for the musicians who are given refreshments during a brief rest.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.32.45 pm

Others, reminded of the brevity of life, make the most of their stay here:

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.35.17 pm

Gifts not laid out on the deceased are stored for more formal sacrifices or temple offerings.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.38.15 pm

Top layers of white sheets cover the corpse along with the gifts placed on him or her.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.39.42 pm

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.42.08 pm

The top sheets are secured and the fuel prepared in position….

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.45.53 pm

It’s been a busy morning. You can see an earlier cremation still smouldering . . . .

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.51.30 pm
One last offering of a cup of water is dropped on to the parched body — this one was luckier (certainly poorer) than Dives. . . .

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 12.49.25 pm

The following two tabs change content below.

Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

Latest posts by Neil Godfrey (see all)



If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!


4 thoughts on “Cremation on a Bali Beach”

  1. We witnessed a cremation at Singaraja on the north coast of Bali in 1979.
    Quite an event.
    My understanding is that the community usually waits until a rich person is cremated then poorer folk include their dead in associated events and so piggy back on the main event.
    A happy day with feasting and music.

    1. Another year I saw something like that — big celebration in a temple, long street processions, — was told it was, as you say, an opportunity for the spirits of the poor to cash in on a rich person who died. There was cock-fighting late in the evening — part of a sacrificial ritual as well as an opportunity for a few bets?

      This past week I saw another relic of the old Bali — a woman quite unselfconsciously topless in public, in conversation with a local. Pity she was closer to 80 than 18 years of age.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.