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Home » Miscellaneous

On Condolence  

by on Friday, 10 November 2006No Comment | 1,143 views

A friend of mine asked me how to express a condolence in Bahasa Bali (Balinese language). It seemed an easy question at first but after a few moments I realized that Balinese language has no expression for showing condolence not even a simple “I am sorry”. I explained this “newly realized” fact to my friend and what saw is a face hunger for explanation, and I did not have to wait for the question I hated most, “why”. But an answer has to be given anyway.

My explanation ran as follow when Balinese heard a sound of kulkul (traditional communication device installed in every Balai Banjar (sub-village public house) with“death news” rhyme, the first thing that cross in their mind is “who was death?”, when will the work for preparation of body washing ceremony begin?” when will the cremation ceremony will be held? As soon as we know the identity of the deceased person we will go straight to their house not to express a condolence but to help the family preparing a body washing ceremony. After the preparation is finished, the time for expressing condolence is begun.

The expression of condolence is not an expression of sympathy but rather a series of question and various offers of help range form material of ceremony, manpower, transportation etc. The questions may run as follows “when did he pass away?” “Was he sick?” “Have you consulted a soothsayer?” “What did she/he said?” “Have you consulted a priest for a good day for cremation ceremony?” “When will it be?” “What kind preservation did you use to preserve the dead body?” “Formaldehyde? Did you get the real stuff?” “How many gallon (of formaldehyde) did you inject?” The offers of help will run as follow “how many bamboos do you need? You can get it from my field”, “if you need a car, call me”; “use my pig for the ceremony”.

That is how we express our condolence. We do not focus on death as sad event but as apart of our everyday life, the work, the process that all human will undergo someday.

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