Home > Travel > Ngaben – The Famous Cremation Ritual of Bali

Ngaben – The Famous Cremation Ritual of Bali

Of all the great ceremonies of Hindus in Bali, the Ngaben or the corpse burning ceremony is one of the most important. This ceremony is usually accompanied by offerings and holy songs. Common belief of the Hindus is that the Ngaben or burning of the corpses will take the departed person to their dwelling place in paradise or send the departed to their next life. The Ngaben is supposedly a way of detaching the soul from all worldly attachments; moreover, it is considered a means of respecting the dead. This belief in the journey to heaven is so firm that the relatives of the deceased try to avoid crying in the graveyard, as they think that it may cause hindrance in the journey to the next world.

The Ceremony

Before conducting the ceremony, the relatives of the deceased would check with a temple priest for the best day for the dewasa. The ceremony starts with the construction of a stage for bathing (nyiramin) the dead body. Then a sarcophagus in buffalo shape (lembu) is designed for holding the corpse while burning. This sarcophagus will be taken on a procession which culminates at the village grave yard.

The relatives of the dead person will pay homage and offer prayers before the final ceremony, so that the deceased will get into heaven. Then, the dead body will be taken to the graveyard in a wadah, with traditional Balinese music and holy mantra (kidung suci). An extensive piece of white cloth (kasa) will be placed before the wadah, leading the ways for the deceased person to reach heaven. The wadah is rotated clockwise for three times whenever a crossroad is passed through – this is to make sure that the soul never returns to its worldly residence.

After reaching the burial ground, the dead body is put into the lembu. A priest chants a mantra and the people burn the lembu. The resulting ash is thrown into the sea or any nearby river. Once the ceremony is over, the family of the deceased would return to their home with the belief that soul of the dead will reincarnate back into their family sometime in the future.

That was some info on the Balinese cremation ceremony – something worth seeing during your next tour to Bali. The Ngaben is just one of the many Hindu ceremonies in Bali that you should surely have a glimpse on.

Categories: Travel
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