Miss Kadek at the Krisda Ubud Guest House, told us about the Royal Cremation Ceremony coming up in Ubud on Thursday the 13th and asked if we were interested in seeing it. This was going to be a big deal in the city and though we were not invited to the private part, if we dressed properly we could go into the temple before and see the preparations. Kadek is such a nice person, she offered to lend us some clothes and dress us up properly. Here she is helping Thea into her beautiful Balinese ensemble.
She also dressed me up as well... My outfit was made of 2 different sarongs and a sash cord, plus my hat. She has true design flair and attention to detail; she gave both of us frangipani flowers from her garden to put behind our ear.
As we walked to the starting point of the ceremony (between the Pura Desa Temple, and the Ubud Palace) we were complimented quite often on our stylish clothes... even by sarong sellers.
It was only 10 AM and the public part of the ceremony only started at noon, but we wanted to see some of the preparations.
You can see 2 floats, the large Royal Bull in the fore ground and the multi-storied Temple structure in the background. That is a detachable ramp in front of it.
The Bull is well decorated and anatomically correct and was designed to be carried by a large number of participants.
The Temple was also highly decorated and very tall! It seemed to me that this one would be the most challenging one to carry.
Pura Desa Temple
Since we were dressed properly, we could go into the Pura Desa Temple and see some of the preparations for the private part of the ceremony.
Here is Thea beside gilded doors, and I am sending beside Barong... (I have a natural affection and interest in this protective god).
As we strolled deeper into the private part of the temple complex, we came across a Gamelan Orchestra setting up. They play an important part in the ceremony.
This is very much a community affair and signs of the local businesses that have helped fund the ceremony are displayed.
We strolled deeper into the temple complex and found where the private ceremony was to take place. The Women in Orange seem to be part of the organizing committee.
We then walked to the cemetery, a good 15 minute away, with the last part up a steep road. Here we met Kadek's sister, who showed us where the Cremation was to take place.
Waiting for the Procession
The procession to the cemetery was scheduled to start around noon, and people were milling around in the shade, out of the hot sun as much as possible. In the meantime, the sarong ladies were using this opportunity to sell some of their wares. Finally something started around 3 pm when they closed off traffic and the water trucks began washing the route to the cemetery.
The band arrived next and we knew things had really started. People soon began carrying things up the ramp to the temple float, some small packages and then the coffin of the Royal Family member.
We moved down the street a ways to find a good vantage point to watch the procession go by and then follow it to the cemetery. First came the ceremonial Bull, carried by dozens of young men. They all were wearing a white tee shirt with the event and date, on the back.
Next came the band and the women carrying offerings.
Then came the Temple float, symbolically pulled by members of the Royal Family and other mourners. Its true height could now be appreciated as it came down the street. There are 2 temple priests high on the structure, one leads the way for the spirits and the other enhances the bearers fortitude through Devine intervention.
The bearers would literally run with the temple and then stop for a rest. As they put it down it would tilt precariously. They did this a few times until they reached the steep hill where the road veered off and was very narrow; at that point and one side of the float had to tilt the temple extremely precariously to negotiate the turn.
Through muscle, determination and divine intervention the temple made its way safely up the hill and to the cemetery.
After a rest and some prayers, they unloaded the coffin from the temple and paraded it around the Bull.
At the same time, they cut the back off the Bull and laid the body and offerings into it.
After a members of the Royal Family lit the Bull using incense sticks, it began to burn and the body was cremated.