Liberators of the spirit in the Balinese island


In Bali, practising religion is just as ordinary as working, shopping and transport are for us: it is a part of everyday life. According to their beliefs, death is not the final destination, but a beginning of a new stage of life.The colour of grief is not black, and the commemoration is not sad.
Attila Lóránt photographer and János Koncz were on a Balinese funeral to record the moments of this special ceremony for us.
In Bali the ritual of farewell takes several days. On this occassion the spirit gets released from the body with the help of the family and the village community, in order to join its Creator. The ceremony begins with placing sacrificial bowls in every corner of the house and the temple. Then, the numerous participants transport the dead to the temple of death on a platform built of bamboo, paper and textile. The corpse is given back to the five elements - earth, water, air, fire and ether- with the power of fire. Otherwise the spirit could not free itself, and would harrass the relatives as a ghost.

Tourists are also welcomed at these ceremonies, as their disturbing presence makes it easier for the spirit to break away from its beloved environment. Meanwhile the priest dressed in white encourages the spirit to leave with tinkling bells.
Finally, the cinerary is wrapped in coconut leaves and is launched into the sea and the family takes a final, painful leave from the deceased.

You can read more about the project in the 2009th October issue of National Geographic Hungary.