Ngaben : Sacred Cremation Ceremony in Bali
As the island of God (Indonesian Language : Pulau Dewata), Bali is so popular with faithful and religious atmosphere. Almost people of Bali are so faithful to God and Nature. They believe that God and Nature will be corporate with humans if humans always take care the balance of nature. They are forbidden to destruct the nature since the nature will take revenge to humans with other ways such as natural destructions. One of Balinese’s beliefs is that that after death, humans will be transformed into another life called afterlife. That’s why, to make easier the dead people achieving next life, Balinese organize Ngaben, a traditional and religious ceremony. Ngaben is a traditional cremation ceremony which is done by Balinese especially Hindu Balinese. Hindu is the major religion in Bali. In Panca Yadna, people of Bali believe that Ngaben is included as Pitra Yadna meaning a traditional ceremony which is intended to ancestor spirit.
Basically, Ngaben has a meaning to take back the ancestor spirit (the spirit of dead people) into the original place. A Pedanda/Pinadita says that humans have Bayu, Idep, and Sabda. After humans die, Bayu, Sabda, and Idep will be backed into Brahma, Siwa, and Wisnu (Gods of Hindu people). Family of dead man will organize Ngaben to make easier the corpse get back to Gods (Wisnu, Siwa, and Brahma). Ngaben will also be organized by family and relatives as the evidence of respect toward the corpse. When this traditional death ceremony is held, there is no grief or more cries since people believe that people do not be allowed to cry corpse since it will be challenge or barrier for the corpse to attain next level. In holding Ngaben, the organizer will choose good days for being special day of Ngaben. And this ceremony will be led by Pedanda/ Pinadita who know more about the procession of Ngaben. Family and people around must prepare all ceremony properties such as Bade and Lembu. Bade and Lembu is sarcophagus that will be used for laying the corpse. Bade and Lembu is made from wood and it is decorated with colorful decorations made from papers and other materials. A morning when Ngaben will be held, family and people around are gathered to prepare the ceremony. Before the corpse is laid into a sarcophagus, the corpse is cleaned up which is called as Nyiramin. Nyiramin is done by family and relatives first and then people around. The oldest people will have the first chance to clean up the corpse. Then, the corpse is dressed with traditional Bali’s costume before being laid into sarcophagus. The family and relatives then give the last homage to the corpse while always praying to God that the corpse is expected to get the best place.
The corpse then is laid into Bade to be carried on Ngaben center. While Bade is carried on, people around sing holy and religious songs and playing ‘Gamelan’, a traditional Bali’s instrument. In every T-intersection and cross road, Bade will be turned around for three times. In Ngaben center, the corpse then is moved on Lembu and then it is burnt into ashes. While Lembu is burning, Ida Pedanda/ Pinandita will lead people and family to pray to God. The ashes of corpse then are spread out into holy river or sea.