Balinese Religion is based on respect for and worship of God and ancestor. It is believed that after death, the body must be dissolved and returned to its original elements. Ngaben, the Balinese word for cremation is a purification rite which frees the spirit from its temporary earthly house and facilitates its journey to its next existence.
Ngaben is the name of the cremation ceremony conducted by the Balinese. The body of the deceased is placed inside a coffin. This coffin is then placed inside either a sarcophagus which has been made in the form of a bull (Lembu) or in a wooden temple structure called a Bade. T
he bull or temple structure is then carried on a crisscross of bamboo poles to the cremation site. Here prayers are said and other rituals performed.
The sarcophagus is then burnt. But no tears are shed: Ngaben is not a solemn occasion as the cremation of the body allows the spirit to either reincarnate or find its final resting place in Moksha (thus breaking the reincarnation and death cycle). This is to be celebrated and not mourned.
As it’s definition, cremation, in ngaben the body will be buried. The unique thing is, the buried process itself because the body is not buried directly, but there are some steps before. First, the family must do some preparatins, such as create some ’sesajen’ (I couldn’t find the match word in English. Is it the same with offerings?). Then they create a huge buffalo replica. in some ceremony, they didn’t create buffalo replica but garuda replica. Inside of it, the body is inserted (note: the body is ritually washed first).
Every culture on the face of the globe has its own view on death, and sometimes it even goes further to define what kind of death that can be called a good death; the manner of dying that is considered the best one, and how society perceives someone’s way of losing his / her life. And Balinese also have a definition of good death in relation with the manner of dying and their own view on someone’s way of losing life.
After that, the procession begins. The replica will be took by some persons to a open field. They will be followed by group of sesajen holders. After they arrive, the preacher will say some incantation then the replica will be burn. People, especially the family, will wait until the burning process is over because the family must recollect the left ashes and bones from the body.
It is a custom and part of a tradition in Bali when someone dies, the whole villager (where one was lives) will help with the preparation for the cremation. The dead body is laid out in a special part of the house to be bathed and prepared. The night before the cremation, holy water will be collected from some main temple and used in preparation of the body and during the cremation. The entire villager (but especially for family and relatives) will participate on the day of the cremation ceremony. Before the body cremated at the cemetary, it will be placed into a wadah, after at the cemetary, and then they body of the deceased is placed inside a coffin which is then placed inside a form of a lembu (cow) which believes to be the vehicle of the spirits, made of paper and light wood. It will be carried to the village cremation site (usually in the village cemetery) in a procession. The ultimate procession is to burn the Wadah, using fire from a holy source.
The body of the deceased will be placed at Bale Delod, as if he were sleeping, and the family will continue to treat him as if he were still alive yet sleeping. No tears are shed, for he is only gone temporarily and he will reincarnate into the family.
The Priest consults the Dewasa to determine the proper day for the ceremony. On the day of the ceremony, the body of the deceased is placed inside a coffin which is then placed inside a sarcophagus in the form of a buffalo (called Lembu) or a temple structure called Wadah made of paper and light wood. The Wadah will be carried to the village cremation site in a procession.
The climax of Ngaben is the burning of the Wadah, using fire originating from a holy source. The deceased is sent to his afterlife, to be reincarnated in the future.
This ceremony can took more than 6 hours, from the beginning until finish. The longest part is the burn process, because burning the bigger replica need extra time.