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Ngaben: A unique Balinese funeral traditions

Generally in Indonesia, the corpse will be buried in the ground. But some ethnic groups have different ways, especially Balinese Hindus. They have a special ceremony named Ngaben – when the deceased will be cremated ⚱️ In preparation, it takes months and all of the people in the villages work together for the successful Ngaben ritual. We have compiled some interesting information about Ngaben which definitely will amaze you! 😲

^ Witnessing the rare ceremony

Ngaben ritual was performed in a festive and exciting atmosphere. Hundred to thousand people including family members, friends, neighbors, and even random people on the street – gathered together.

Up to a hundred guys carried some colorful funeral towers and a cow statue that contains the deceased. The orchestra played traditional songs on the back which makes the ritual lively 🎶

 

^ Uniting with Hindus God

Balinese Hindus believe that cremation release the soul of the dead, allows it to have a journey to heaven and rejoin the Hindu cycle of reincarnation. The soul-releasing is believed as a medium for the soul to unite with God. When holding a cremation ceremony, it can be a sign that the family left behind has accepted the death of the family member 🥀

 

^ Panca Maha Bhuta

One of the purposes of Ngaben is to return all of the Panca Maha Bhuta’s element – it is the main elements which ‘build’ human’s features 🚶

  • Akasa : Ether elements
  • Bayu : Air elements
  • Teja : Light elements
  • Apah : Liquid elements
  • Perthiwi : Solid elements

 

^ Various types of Ngaben ceremony in Bali

1. Ngaben Sawa Wedana
The corpse remains in the intact and undamaged form – it is not buried beforehand 💀

2. Ngaben Asti Wedana
The corpse has been buried beforehand ⚰️

3. Ngaben Swasta
The corpse is not at the ritual location – it is possible when the deceased is in a very far place, or when the body cannot be found, etc ✈️

4. Ngaben Ngelungah
The corpse is a child who has not yet lost their baby teeth 🦷

5. Ngaben Warak Kruron
The corpse is a baby who was dead before they were born into the world 👼

 

^ Burning the cow

The coffin used in the Ngaben ritual is in the form of a cow. Balinese Hindus believe that a cow is a sacred animal 🐄 The burning process is using the high-pressure gas fire that can burn the wood wraps quickly. Usually, in the middle of the burning process, local residents and colleagues perform a prayer. After the body has become ash, the burned corpse will be thrown into the open sea.

May the soul of the deceased be at peace 🙏

 

References

Hays, J. (2008). FUNERAL AND DEATH IN BALI | Facts and Details. Retrieved from Facts and Details’s website http://factsanddetails.com/indonesia/Minorities_and_Regions/sub6_3h/entry-4025.html

  • Kintamani ID. Upacara Ngaben, Ritual Mengantar Kepergian Jenazah dari Bali. Retrieved from https://www.kintamani.id/upacara-ngaben-ritual-mengantar-kepergian-jenazah-dari-bali-006232.html
  • Richo. (2013). Ngaben Upacara Membakar Raga. Retrieved from Kita Kemana’s website http://vespabackpacker.blogspot.com/2013/08/ngaben-upacara-membakar-raga.html
  • Sumarya, I. M. (2010). Panca Mahabhuta Sebagai Anasir Dasar Penyusun Alam Semesta. Retrieved from Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia Pusat’s website http://phdi.or.id/artikel/panca-mahabhuta-sebagai-anasir-dasar-penyusun-alam-semesta



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