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PASSPORT TO PARADISE


traffic-stopper in any country. Seen amongst the mud-walled compounds and green rice paddies of Bali, it is breathtaking indeed.

While the bade takes care of the body - the sarcophagus, or lembu, is responsible for the well-being of the spirit. Traditionally the wooden "coffin", larger than life and intricately carved, represents a bull, a cow, a winged lion, or a white swan - depending on caste.
Like the tower, the lembu is catching. Encased in a velvet skin", festooned with flowers, beads and gold filigree - the proud bull (or haughty lion) looks a fit messenger for the gods.
At a time when so much spectacle is to be let loose in the streets, yet one more ingredient must be considered - the weather.
After weeks - sometimes months - of expensive preparation, it would be all too devastating if the cremation procession had to slither and slosh down the street in a tropical deluge. When the date chosen by the priest chances to fall in one of the rainy months, relatives and friends are all too-conscious of this hazard. So much so, that on the occasion of one famous Royal cremation at Gianyar, which came smack in the middle of the wet season, the family held a meeting to consider how to safeguard against a wash-out.
Logically, a priest would be called in and asked to pray for a fine dry day, with blue sky and sunshine. But, as some of the less devout members of the family argued - would any priest be prepared to stick his neck out and make such a prayer at the height of the rainy season There was only one way to j find out - ask.

And, astonishing though it was, suck a one came forward and volunteered, to intercede whith the gods.
Cremation day arrived, the clouds rolled away, the sun blazed forth on the magnificent ceremony and the priest was honoured throughout the district.
But, in the neighboring district of Mengwi, this same priest's name was mud - literally

 

 
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