Ananda Cottages has become a bit of a home away from home for us, and the Paglia family, who own and run it, an extension of family.
When we first started coming their children were young teenagers and now those teenagers are running the shop and have children of their own. Dewi , who is also a doctor, divides her time between The Cottages and hospital, the other two children run various wings of the business.
Culture and their Hindi faith are important parts of their life, and when we are staying they include us in whatever festival or ceremony – and Bali has a lot – that maybe on at the time. On our second last visit,
Mr. Paglia’s father had just passed away, from an elite caste. His cremation – Ngaben – ceremony, which is a funeral ritual performed in Bali to send the deceased to the next life, took a month. The body of the father was placed as if sleeping and the family continued to treat the father as sleeping. No tears were shed, because the father is only temporarily absent and will reincarnate or find a final rest. The various ceremonies involve the extended family and people from the village and are elaborate colourful affairs…
I was squeezed into a ceremonial sarong, lent to me my Dewi. I sat and watched as various hens and ducks were tied with string and presented to the gods as gifts……not killed…and then let go … high priests splashed holy water over us and then we did a lot of praying and eating.
The climax of the Ngaben is the burning of the sarcophagus, which resembles a buffalo made from Papier mache, this has the body of the father inside and is borne to the cremation site in a procession, which is almost never walked in a straight line. This is done to confuse evil spirits and keep them away from the deceased. The fire is viewed as necessary to free the spirit from the body and enable reincarnation……..makes our funeral rituals look a little uninspired
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