in any country. Seen amongst the mud-walled compounds and green
rice paddies of Bali, it is breathtaking indeed.
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
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.
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
But, in the neighboring district of Mengwi, this same priest's name
was mud - literally