In Bali, even the death must wait.
Ketut Luh Suci must wait.
That Sunday evening, Ngadeg was watching television. His wife was in the kitchen and his 12 year old daughter was preparing snacks and a meal for her excursion on the next day. Then, he was surprised by the cry of his wife in his mother’s bedroom. His mother had died. However, this bad news did not surprise Ngadeg and the others since they had prepared themselves for this.
His mother, named Ketut Luh Suci, was very old, 98 years. She could not remember much anymore. She always asked everyone “Who are you?”, “Whose child are you?”, when people visited her. She was healthy enough for her old age, but her legs were not as strong as before. She often fell when she stood or walk. They should pay careful attention to her because sometimes she went out and walked around without telling them. They several times had lost her and then they looked for her in neighbor’s houses.
Although they have prepared themselves, they could not resist the tears. They loved her very much. She was patient and full of affection, and a good mother and grandmother. Ngadeg, being one of her sons, took the lead to prepare the ceremony for her dead body. He started by asking some relatives to buy white clothes, and ice. Ice is put below and besides the dead body before the burying or cremation.
Ngadeg led the family meeting that evening. He reported the matter to the head of the village and invited the elders to decide the best day to perform the ceremony based on the Balinese calendar. Hindu followers always perform ceremonies based on the Balinese calendar. However, just a few days before, the village people in Pemaron had prepared the big ceremony for the death in the Pura Dalem temple of Pemaron. The preparation of the ceremony had been done several days ago. Because of this ceremony, Ngadeg and the close family should not go to the temple to pray, they were even not allowed to enter the holy places. They were told to hold their “Cuntaka”.
The big ceremony of the Pura Dalem started on Wednesday night and was continued until Thursday afternoon. Any activities dealing with Cuntaka should not be performed during these days. Therefore, the dead body of Ngadeg’s mother should not have a ceremony soon. It was supposed his mother was sleeping, or still sirep. On Friday, Ngadeg and the family started to prepare the attributes made of bamboo, for the bathing procession, preparations for the guests, relatives, neighbors and friends, who would come to pay their respect.
On Friday they could not perform the ceremony because it was Tilem or new moon. And the days after Tilem, Saturday and Sunday, were considered to be a bad day to perform a ceremony. It was said to be “Semut Sedulur”, literary meaning the row of the ants. It is believed that if death ceremony is done on those days, other persons in that family die one after the other. Just like the ants that walk in a row.
Eventually, the dead body of Ngadeg’s mother was buried on Monday, eight days after her death. The family had anticipated it by putting ice and formalin to prevent the bad smell. The procession of the ceremony was not ended after the dead body was buried. There were still ngerorasin, a ceremony held on the 12th day after the death, where after this, the relatives can purify themselves and can go to the temple. While the close family of Luh Suci, like her children and family can go to the temple after the 42nd day.