It’s Tuesday May 29th. There is a full moon arising – the time when the earth is at its most fertile; a time of renewal, of new growth and of showing gratitude for our blessings.
It is with these thoughts in mind and with this auspicious timing that I am releasing what I consider a heart-poundingly beautiful video shot by my extraordinary videographer, Cosmic, a gifted Australian film maker living in Bali.
The video captures the mysticism, spirituality, fervour and joy of a rare and very special occasion, the cremation of 96-year-old Anak Agung Niang Agung who died in January this year. She was the wife of the last king of Ubud, a hugely important historical figure in this remarkable area of Bali.
Under his leadership Ubud blossomed into a renown cultural and artistic hub, gathering some of Bali’s greatest artists to teach painting, dance and music to the next generation. The couple worked hand in hand to serve the community in many ways, gaining profound respect from its people, a love and respect so vividly captured in this video.
I am so honoured that my composition, The Last Sigh can serve as a humble tribute to the gracious and dignified hospitality of the very special people of this spectacular Indonesian island. Despite the impact of 21st century tourism I am immeasurably moved by the manner in which the Ubud region has retained and preserved its timeless artistic culture and religion.
Cosmic has captured these special qualities in superbly observed detail in the video – the joyous celebration of life and community, and of nature worship that is central to a Hindu Balinese cremation, joyous because it represents the liberation of the spirit, freeing it for reincarnation by returning it to the five elements of water, earth, fire (or light), air and sky.
In a highly ritualized spiritual and aesthetic ceremony, to which Cosmic had unfettered access granted by the royal family, the body of Anak Agung Niang Agung is placed in a 27 metre cremation tower or bade, symbolic of a temple, and weighing approximately three tons.
The bade is carried by teams of men from each village along the five hour procession route to the cremation site where the body is transferred to a bull sarcophagus and ceremoniously cremated and the ashes scattered out to sea.
The Last Sigh, intimate, yet at the same time hauntingly powerful, serves as a musical narrative underscoring the mesmerizing imagery.
One such image is of the full moon. In Bali, this is a symbol of divinity that plays an important role in religious rites. When the moon is at its brightest the belief is that Chandra, the moon god, bestows his blessings through the lunar light.
The full moon is one of the most sacred days in the Balinese Hindu calendar when it’s believed that the moon’s most powerful, auspicious and even magical energy is released. I personally feel this power and magic.
I hope you too will find a little magic and joy in this celebratory video that I bring to you from my heart.
– Arash Behzadi
Video by: Cosmic (Instagram: @afreelancehuman)
Music composed by: Arash Behzadi
Story written by: Dee Gibney
Special appreciation to Ubud Royal family – Bali – Indonesia