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PASSPORT TO PARADISE


Cremations come in all shapes and sizes in Bali, but whether big, little or economy size - whether a recent corpse, a mummified body or a handful of disinterred bones - they always rate star billing - because in an island famed for festivals, there is no occasion as festive as a cremation.

Unlikely Bear with me and all will be clear.
To understand the mood of a cremation, you need to know
something of the religion behind it. A cremation is not a pious parting. It is a joyful re-cycling of the soul - a bon voyage party Speeding the spirit from here to eternity For the Balinese believe that the soul is earthbound until freed from the imprisoning body by fire.
Picture a jet-setter arriving at an airport, unable to find his passport, and then the joy when a relative rushes up with the missing papers. There you have a situation paralleling a cremation.
The soul is ready, willing but not able to travel until given its fiery farewell. .1
It is therefore the happy duty of the relatives to light a fire under him and get him mobile.
The ritual for a cremation is elaborate and involved, but calls
for certain basic ingredients, including funerary pieces prepared by expert craftsmen: the tower to transport the body to the cremation ground and the animal sarcophagus to transport the soul to Paradise.
The tower, usually the more elaborate structure, can rise to a height of