Ngaben Ceremony: Ritual Burning of Bodies in Bali

Ngaben Ceremony: Ritual Burning of Bodies in Bali
Ngaben Ceremony: Ritual Burning of Bodies in Bali

ENGLISH KUPASONLINE.COM–Hindus when they die, are they burned? Yes, indeed the tradition is like that in Bali. There is a special ritual that needs to be done to accompany the corpse. The name of the ritual is the Ngaben ceremony. The Ngaben ceremony is a procession of burning corpses or cremation for Balinese Hindus. The tradition of burning corpses is intended as a symbol to purify the spirits of people who have died. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation until now.

So, is cremation a tradition in Bali? In general, people who die will be buried. However, it is different from Hindus in Bali. I myself saw this Ngaben ceremony several times. Uniquely, during the Ngaben ceremony, I never found sobs from the families left behind, in fact, this ritual was carried out with great pomp. The Balinese believe that we are forbidden to cry over someone’s death because it can hinder the journey of the spirit to the afterlife. Here, I’ll give you a little description of the Ngaben tradition in Bali.

Reason for burning corpses

The Ngaben ceremony is a symbol of returning the elements of human life from the ground to the ground, air to air, and so on. Burning the corpse and then throwing the ashes into the sea has the meaning of releasing the spirit from worldly shackles so that it can easily unite with God. For the family, this ceremony is a symbol that the family is sincere and lets go of the person who has died.

They are expensive

The Ngaben ceremony requires a lot of money, you know. In one Ngaben ceremony in Bali, quite a lot of money is spent, even reaching tens of millions of rupiah. The amount of the cremation fee is due to the many ceremonial needs that must be prepared. In fact, not infrequently, Balinese who are less financially able to do mass cremation in order to save costs. A mass cremation is usually held for a certain period, for example, once every five years in a village. So do not be surprised if the event is carried out with great fanfare. For wealthy people, cremation is done as soon as possible. Usually, the corpse is kept at home to wait for the auspicious day of the ceremony.

The bodies are paraded around the village

Before starting the journey to the burning place, the body will be placed in a bade (a facility that is deliberately made like a bale-bale). Bade is paraded around the village. The entire family and local residents will accompany this procession. In practice, the Ngaben ceremony is carried out in such a grand manner accompanied by many people and luxurious decorations. The gamelan began to be played, the pallbearer tower was lifted up in crowds, and people crowded to watch the boisterous procession.

All vehicles pull over

When the Ngaben ceremony is held, the streets around will be closed temporarily until the procession is over. Local residents who were driving their vehicles would pull over briefly to let the motorcade pass. This is a form of tolerance that is inherent and the Balinese do it spontaneously.

Not all Ngaben

Many suspects that the Ngaben ceremony is carried out by all Balinese Hindus. In fact, not all areas in Bali carry out this ceremony. There are areas that only bury their bodies, there are also those that place them under a tree like in Trunyan.

That is a glimpse of the Ngaben tradition in Bali. As I mentioned above, cremation is a symbol of sincerity or the willingness of the family left behind. This tradition becomes a celebration full of joy, far from sadness and tears. In addition, it is also a happy moment because parents or children have carried out their obligations as family members by carrying out this ceremony. (*)

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