Indonesia, a country with more than 15,000 islands, 200 different ethnic groups and few hundred different languages, is rich with cultures, beliefs, myths and rituals. One of the traditions, accepted and performed across the archipelago by almost all different ethnic groups, is a ritual that a placenta and its umbilical cord that is delivered after the baby is born must be given a proper treatment. The treatment varies from proper burial in the ground near the family house to being drifted inside a small wooden ship on the river. This ritual is believed to have the effect to the children's way of life when they grow older. If parents want their children to always remember home and to keep coming back to visit them, then they would usually lay their baby's placenta to rest in the family house ground. But if the parents want their children to leave home and sail the world when they grow up, they usually put the placenta inside a nice wooden miniature ship and drift it on the river.
I, myself, do not really believe in such thing. However, as my wife was expecting our second child and after discussing with some of my family members and friends, I thought it would be good to uphold the ritual and do something with the placenta.
When my baby boy was born on 16 October 2003, I decided to do something different with the placenta, something to remember. What to do? I do not want my child to grow up and keep coming back home, so I do not want to bury it near my house. I also do not want my son to wander the world without any direction, so drift it on the river is not a choice. After thinking about it, I decided to bring the placenta to Bali and bury it underwater. I thought bury it underwater would be a cool thing to do. At least I will always have a story to tell my son about it. I can also take him diving someday and tell him about this project. Most of all, I do this because of my love to diving and I do want my children to someday take up this hobby as well. Just for your information, my other fellow KSDC member did the same thing last year for his baby's placenta. We call this special diving trip 'Umbilical Cord Diving'. This I predict will be a tradition for KSDCers for the years to come.
I flew from Jakarta on Friday evening and soon after landing in Bali Airport, I went to KSDC HQ at Kerobokan Bali. There I met with other members. We decided to leave early next day to Tulamben in order to catch the morning dive. Tulamben is best dived in the morning, when the water is pristine and clear. On early Saturday morning we left Sanur at 7:30 AM. We arrived in Tulamben at around 10:00 AM. We immediately prepared our dive gears and ready to start our first dive.
I put the placenta into a traditional Balinese terracotta container and wrapped it with a white cloth, along with it I put in some money, small book and pen, flowers and I poured a little bit of perfume. These are all symbols, money signifies prosperity, book and pen signify intelligence, and flowers and perfume signifies purity. After doing all of this ritual, I joined with the other members to do our first dive, the 'Umbilical Cord Diving'.
We dived at Drop Off dive site on the right side of Tulamben beach. We chose this dive site because it is a wall dive and there are many openings to put in the terracotta container. We started diving at about 11:00 AM, and 10 minutes later I and my buddy had reached the bottom of the drop off at about 58 meters. There we saw an opening on the wall and I decided to use this opening as the final resting place for my baby's placenta. I placed in the terracotta container into the small opening.
After finishing with this underwater project we ascended slowly and watched our dive computer very closely to avoid any unnecessary debacle. At the same time I enjoyed myself looking into the surrounding scenery bursting with beautiful corals, fishes and a gigantic purple sea fan. I was so happy that I was able to do this ritual in a place like Bali, a beautiful island full of mystiques and traditions, an island of Gods.