Scores of people were cremated in a colourful Hindu ceremony on Bali Monday, with crowds of mourners watching as bull-shaped sarcophagi went up in flames.
Mourners handed out flowers and threw chickens from a tower during the ceremony, which saw 63 bodies cremated on an island that is a pocket of strong Hindu beliefs in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
It took place in Gianyar regency, east of the island’s cultural centre Ubud, after days of elaborate rituals. Traditional Hindu beliefs dictate that cremation will take the deceased to the after-life or reincarnation.
Mass cremations are common in Bali, where Hindu beliefs remain strong despite the island’s transformation into a tourist mecca, and are held for poor families who cannot afford the ritual-heavy ceremonies alone.
Some of the people cremated on Monday had died up to five years ago.
“Cremation is an obligation for all Hindus so our spirits can be returned to nature,” said Jero Mangku Sangging, the Hindu cleric leading the ceremony.
Fifteen families had paid for sarcophaguses carved in the shape of bulls — an animal that is sacred in Hinduism — to adorn the corpses.