I love to travel and I need to keep and treasure every scene that I witness and every spectacular view or event that I’m privileged enough to observe. Balinese people have a strong belief in the afterlife and divide their cosmos (world-view) into three worlds. The released spirits of their ancestors, along with the gods, reside in the upper world (swah) while living humans reside in the middle world (bwah). The lower world, where the demons reside, is called bhur. They interpret their geographical location on earth by the same definitions with the mountains being swah, the plains are bwah and the ocean is bhur. The human body also follows this tripartite division with the head being swah, the torso is bwah and the legs and feet are bhur. 2 These belief distinctions become important when one endeavors to understand their rituals pertaining to life cycle.
Believing that their newborn children are the reincarnations of their deceased ancestors (but only if the ancestor’s spirit has been released), their rituals pertaining to life, death and renewal are best explored beginning with death. When a Balinese dies, it is believed that he must undergo certain rituals in order for his spirit to be released. The most important of the rituals is that of cremation, but it is so costly that many people either delay the ceremonies or go into massive debt to perform the rituals associated with the cremation. For the purpose of this essay, we will assume that the family will be undertaking this elaborate ritual in a timely fashion.
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