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Home » People & Community

When Death Comes  

by on Monday, 29 January 2007No Comment | 2,121 views

When death comes to a Balinese family and take away one of its members, it is no longer a family’s business. It is a community’s business. At this time the Balinese unity and sense of owning is put into the greatest test.


A death in Bali requires a cremation ceremony and it is a big deal that needs a great deal of money, a great deal of time, and a great deal of work (physical and knowledge). It is impossible for the family to manage this massive work and the service of community especially the Banjar (a sub-village neighborhood organization) is needed.

The each members of Banjar will contribute some money to the family of the deceased this contribution called “patus“, the amount of “patus“, is depend on the banjar’s written rules, “awig-awig“. Wives of the banjar’s will also bring a gift to the family of the deceased usually consists of cloth, rice, sugar, coffee and cookies. These gifts and contribution will ease the financial burden of the family of the deceased.


However, the most valuable contribution and gift, is the contribution of knowledge and the gift of work force. Cremation ceremony needs heaps of intricate offerings that need a specific knowledge on offering preparation. The preparation of offering alone will drain the treasury of the family and the work force of the Banjar. The physical works not just limited on preparing the offering, a cremation tower have to be erected, the stage for cremation on the graveyard have to be build, and the house of the deceased have to be decorated. Moreover, a pre cremation ceremony, including washing and decorating the body of the deceased will consume a great deal of work and time. The daytime is full with work but there is no stop. When the night comes another work is to be done, the preparation for the feast is basically done during the night time. The members of banjar are busy making the sticks for satay, preparing spices, and other ingredients. After all the preparation for feast is finished they will spent the night with gambling and chatting. This nighttime an activity is called “magebagan“. A 24-hour work is common in preparation of cremation ceremony.


An “I scratch you, you scratch mine” rule is deeply rooted in Balinese life. A help in the time of need will be rewarded with a greater help when the helper need a help in the future. A member of the banjar give his fullest attention, time, and power for the cremation ceremony of other member since soon or later he will hold a cremation ceremony. He knows that he and his own family will have to depend upon the help of the other Banjar members and his dedication for other Banjar members will ensure the same dedication from them when death comes to his family.


The ceremony is a strong binder of Balinese community, though some of us may consider it as a burden.

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