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The Backlog at Bali Mortuaries

Bali's Dead Wait for Release as All Cremations on Hold from Mid February Until April 27th.

(3/10/2009) Plans for a major religious ceremony the Panca Bali Krama - to be held via a series of rites conduced at Bali's Mother temple of Pura Besakih between March 25 April 27, 2009, is causing a backlog of bodies at local mortuaries.

In keeping with Balinese beliefs that cremation ceremonies violate the purity and sanctity of the Island and that the period leading up to the once-a-decade Panca Bali Krama must be kept ritually "clean," cremations between February 13-20, 2009 could only be done with special permission. After that period, from February 20th until the end of the ceremonial period on April 27, 2009, cremations are prohibitted for Balinese Hindus, meaning bodies of the deceased must be either buried for unearthing and cremation at a later date, or somehow preserved above ground until the last days of April when disposal by fire can recommence.

A practical consequence of this situation is the current backlog of bodies being stored in the refrigerated mortuaries of Bali's major hospitals. Bali Post quotes Dr. Dudut Rustyadi of the Forensic Section of the Sanglah General Hospital as saying that all the available cooling drawers in his hospital's morque are now filled, including both Balinese being "stored" until auspicious days form cremations return and foreigners' remains awaiting final disposition.

With some corpses being stored for up to two month awaiting cremation, Sanglah officials are preparing additional refrigerated containers to accommodate the growing overflow of the dead waiting for the end of April when the Panca Bali Krama period comes to a close.