the big send off –
D-day for the cremation dawned clear enough, and by 9 a huge crowd had already gathered. somehow traffic was still trickling by, but by 10 it was total gridlock and all roads to ubud were stopped. In the palace various dignitaries and would be dignitaries sat, and the costumes were just as various and would be. Personally I gave up all pretense for dignity, having learned a long time ago that it is almost impossible to outrun a rampaging badÃ© in fancy sandals. So the functional purple polo-shirt from the Puri (instant identification) and a pair of ugly but functional running shoes. And a good thing too, as getting in and out of the Puri and running ahead of the 250 man towers and the huge Bull Cok Wah put together for his Dad in the heat and dust is about as much as I can manage at half a century! There was a moment of slight embarassed tension as the Naga proved almost impossible to get out of the inner courtyard through the Kori gateway, but when the head finally got through, evoking a moment of birth, Bupati Cok “Ace”(pron. Ah-chuh) Oka Sukawati broke out in a big smile of relief – thanks to my purple shirt of ‘allegiance’ I got to see this. And thanks to my running shoes I got to see what was going on outside! It is kind of impressive when in the middle of Ubud royal cremation madness you suddenly get a complete hush at the cross roads when the pedanda has to ‘shoot’ the naga with his magical arrows. It is always considered to be a dangerous undertaking, one which risks the life of the priest, and not all pedandas will do it. In this case Pedanda Aan seemed up to the task and was totally focused. Then everyone was off with a big rush. Cok Raka and Jero Asri’s daughter Maya was a stunning adornment to the procession – you don’t always get beauties being carried in the palanquins ahead of the beast. But of course the rush was a little short lived. It was the bull again! The eight meter, two ton plus bull was a constant source of delay. It took a lot of yelling, rollers, and levers just to get it on to the ‘sanan’ bamboo carrying frame, and after all the poor sweating (possibly maybe swearing , but probably discreetly) guys finally got it to the cremation ground, (after half the bamboos cracked on the frame under the extreme weight – the platform framework was made of heavyweight bingkarai hard wood)) proved to be another challenge to get it up onto the funerary mound. Cok Wah, after clinging on for life on his creation for the last meters into the cremation ground (usually by this time the carriers get pretty boisterous and uncontrollable) seemed a bit subdued, and of course emotional at the final send off of his dad. By this time Cok GedÃ© had lost his voice, and cousin Cok Raka Kertiyasa, brother of the deceased, had taken over all the yelling. Don’t get me wrong, there is, at this point, no other way to communicate to the team. BY 7.30 pm they were finally ready to light up, and a big cheer went through the crowd. Thankfully no one went “OlÃ©”. Cremation is a bit of a spectator sport, and of course anyone who had anything that could take a picture did! What a show!
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