During our stay in Kemenuh Village, Sukawati, Gianyar, Bali, two local communities were celebrating the funerals for two dead people. I asked some of those who were attending the funerals to tell me something about their funeral rites. They replied:

“When someone dies the dead body is washed with special water, dressed, covered with a shroud, and then carried to the cemetery. All the people in the village join the funeral procession, bringing offerings. The men play a kind of music called “Gambelan/angklung”.

At the cemetery, the body is purified again with holy water, and then buried.

According to our culture and religion, the body ought to be cremated. But, since the cremation ceremony is very expensive, these days it is celebrated once every four years, usually between July and September, according to the Balinese lunar calendar.

The bodies of those who have died during the previous four years are dug up, gathered and then burned all together. Their ashes are collected and thrown into the sea.”

We are dust and to dust we will return!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)



“Before leaving Pune, I went to the Burning Ghat again. There was a pyre. This time women were also present at the funeral. They stayed at a certain distance from the pyre except the wife of the dead man, who stood closer. She broke her bangle with a stone. There was also red powder scattered on the ground. ‘Why did she break her bangle?’ I asked a man next to me. ‘From now on, she won’t wear either bangles or colored saris. Moreover, she won’t put the sindoor on her forehead. It is the spot of red powder on the forehead of Indian married women,’ he answered. ‘What color should her sari be?’ ‘It should be white.’
“At that moment, I recalled my grandmother who had worn black clothes since her husband’s death. In India, it was the same. The color was different, white in India and black in Sicily, but the essence of the love toward their husbands didn’t differ.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind



“I was walking along the Red River in the countryside near Winnipeg when I heard melodious singing coming from somewhere nearby. I followed the sound until it became
distinct. It came from a small chapel. I entered it. The ceiling was covered with wooden planks. On one side of a rectangular table in front of the altar was a small cream colored box containing ashes, similar to a cookie box. On the other side was a large photo of a woman dressed in violet, with gray hair. I couldn’t see her features clearly, because the
photo was enlarged, and I was far from it. About one hundred people stood in the shape of an amphitheater opposite the table. They sang with the sound of the organ. Then a lady with a guitar came in. Her singing mixed with the others’. In Sicily, we don’t sing during funerals. The funeral rites consist of a stereotyped religious function. No songs at all. But in that small Canadian Catholic church, things went differently. The singing of those who stood facing the cinerary urn sounded like a joyous farewell to the dead woman who was about to leave for another place. It vibrated and resonated in the air like sound waves that would carry the dead woman’s soul toward another world. Mass went on. When it was over, a tall and slender young man dressed in white and wearing a black tie took the little box with his hands and headed for the exit of the chapel. All the others followed him. There was a lawn near the church. A hole had already been dug. The young man laid the small box into the little pit while the priest was blessing the grave. Someone took a handful of soil from the ground and threw it onto the little box. One by one, everybody left the graveyard except for four persons who seemed to be the family. An old man with shaved hair and green eyes held a shovel in his hand and waited until the families left. Then, he filled the hole with soil and made a little mound over it. Finally, he also left, carrying the shovel on his shoulder. Everything was over. Yes, one life finished like that.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Wordssecond edition– by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind