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    Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 25

    Friday, July 27, 2012
    Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

    The completed bull and tower for the royal cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A back view of the completed tower for the royal cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    After my third veggie burrito at Mojo’s, I checked Pura Dalem Puri again to see if anything else had been constructed for the royal cremation ceremony, but everything looked the same–except a gathering of about 100 people in a lot across the alley who stood in front of a priest flinging holy water all over them. It looked amazing, raw and kind of funny. After I caught that on video, I had a pancake at Taman Curry for desert, then made my way West on Jalon Raya Ubud to scope a potential second story perch for the cremation procession tomorrow morning. The only possible one I saw was a little restaurant called Kue, so it looks like it’s gonna be that or the sidewalk.

    The dragon returns! Ubud Palace, the night before the royal cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A behind-the-scenes look at Barong and Rangda at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Back down at the center of town, a mass of people milled around on the streets outside Ubud Palace, gawking at the recently completed colorful cremation tower and giant bull. Another procession passed by heading East on Jalon Raya Ubud and hung a left into the Palace. This time, two ladies rode in the perches instead of a young boy and girl like yesterday. A bit later, I made my way inside the outer courtyard, which was no problem, as I had donned my udeng and sarong, but people were just milling around. So, I stepped into the inner courtyard and got blindsided by all of the colorful and intricate decorations for the ceremony. The pavilions were built out with little thatched rooftops, one containing a priest, who was conducting rituals, and another with the fantastic dragon from yesterday’s procession, which was placed in front of a sarcophagus containing the body of the King. Everything on this pavilion was covered with so many intricate decorations, it made my head spin.

    A statue of a traditional Balinese dancer at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A front porch all decked out for one of the hotel rooms at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Next, I made my way further inside the royal compound, which is chock-full of super-ritzy porches and pavilions all decked out with fancifully carved doorways and walls, statues, antique furniture, and the like. Some of these rooms are available for rental to tourists. I heard the royal family also owns a couple of other hotels in Ubud. Back at the inner courtyard a gamelan orchestra clinked and clanked away, as a couple of ladies about 30 feet away sang from a book of scriptures and another traditionally costumed man between the two performed some kind of spoken drama while he donned various masks. Rest assured, these three performances were not all tied together directly, which gave the whole proceedings a strange, street fair kind of flair. Combined with other sundry sounds from the milling crowds, it all added up to an amazing sound environment that just cried out to be not only savored in-person in the moment, but captured on video and field recordings, which is exactly what I did.

    A priest conducts a ritual the night before the royal cremation ceremony at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    A gamelan jams the night before the royal cremation ceremony at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    After a prayer ceremony with devotees sitting on the ground in front of an altar came to a close, a lot of people–including the 20 or 30 tourists in attendance– made their way out. I hung out for a while longer, just completely absorbing the awesome artistic ambiance of it all. As I made my way to the outer courtyard, another gamelan outfit rang out a deep swath of real Balinese music. I was surprised to see that it was an all-female ensemble, possibly Luh Luwih. After dinner at Cafe Eclipse, I wasn’t really surprised to see a big crowd–mostly Balinese–gathered around the cremation tower. Even though the streets of Ubud are usually pretty empty after 10:00 pm, this was a very special night. I bet these people will hang out here until tomorrow.

    A moment for prayer the night before the royal cremation ceremony at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Another gamelan jams the night before the royal cremation ceremony at Ubud Palace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

    Roll over photos for captions.
    Words and photos ©2012 Arcane Candy.

    One response to “Tropical Heat Tour: Bali Part 25”

    1. Jay says:

      I hope for cases where the ritual is scdheuled months after the actual death, the cremation has already taken place well beforehand.And as someone who, thankfully, has encountered very little deaths in my circle I always feel a weird mix of awkwardness and fascination with death/griefing rituals.

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