Sacred and Scary: The Skull Island of Bali.

The beautiful Bali is known for its eye captivating natural scenic beauties, dense jungles, panoramic ocean views, animals residing in green foliages. Bali of Indonesia is famous worldwide for its tourist destination.

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Where on one side, the people and tourists rejoice and celebrate Bali’s life and festival; on the other side they observe death ceremonies and rituals in a very notable way.

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The village of Trunyan (or Terunyan), located on the eastern shore of Lake Batur in the central Bali of Indonesia honour the deceased in a pronounced manner. They place the dead bodies openly, on an island, in a full display to decompose naturally. The resident of Trunyan also known as Bali Aga (often Bali Mula) obeys their age old traditions and customs strictly.

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The funeral rituals are very different than what’s observed in the rest of the world. One has to go via boat to reach the island where the funeral rituals are performed. The Trunyanese do not bury or cremate the dead. They perform a cleansing ritual with the rain water and their bodies are placed under the taru menyan tree in a bamboo cage. The forces of the nature wear away the body tissues leaving the exposed skulls and skeletons behind. The skulls are later placed on the stair shaped wall on a full display, with other such skeletons placed in a line.  The dead bodies lie on the ground, covered with cloths, fenced with small human fitting sized bamboo canopies.

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The villagers often use formaldehyde to preserve the bodies against rotting quickly. These bodies lie silently with their favourite clothes on, bright umbrellas shielding their bodies and their favourite things, lying nearby offered as gifts, by their loved ones.

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Often the place is described to be trashy and untidy by the tourists and travellers who visit the island. But in reality, those are not trashes. Those are the belongings of the dead, which their loved ones keep beside them. But despite of so many things placed there, rotting along with the dead bodies, there are no traces of stinking smell that’s supposed to be loitering all over. It is believed that a “fragrant tree” overpowers the smell of rotting bodies. The tree is called Taru Menyan; from which it’s said that the name Trunyan has been derived. It is a long, towering, twisted and tangled mossy tree has a nice smell to it, which neutralizes the rotting smell.

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It is said that the dead bodies of the married people are only brought there and placed open surrounded by bamboo canopies. The body of the unmarried or people who die in an accident or drown in lake are buried at the cemetery.

The culture and tradition has been observing these rituals of death for many decades. And it’s within their culture. It’s neither inappropriate nor weird. The natural burial under the open air, is how their life pass on from the living earth.

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15 Nov 2017 05:26 PM

I have been to Bali but I didn't visit that place. Looks interesting and creepy at the same time!


15 Nov 2017 07:37 PM

Oh I read about this somewhere else too!! At first I thought it was a bit weird but then, in a way, it is a lovely way to honor the dead


15 Nov 2017 07:51 PM

Interesting read. I definitely did not know about these rituals. I would love to go to Bali though!


16 Nov 2017 02:22 AM

I've never heard of such a thing! How fascinating!


16 Nov 2017 05:27 AM

A little too scary for me. I don't think I would like to visit.


16 Nov 2017 02:33 PM

Its creepy but its their tradition.


16 Nov 2017 03:30 PM

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.


16 Nov 2017 04:30 PM

I agree with Tonya - a little too scary for me. Interesting though :-)

Diana Tidswell

16 Nov 2017 05:44 PM

Yikes! I never thought that the beautiful island of Bali has this kind of tradition. This is scary but amazing somehow.

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