The Balinese view the cremation of a loved one as a time of celebration and go to great expense to ensure the dead have a suitable send-off. The principle purpose of the Ngaben or Pitra Yadyna ceremony, as it is called in Bali, is to release the soul of a dead person so that it can enter the upper realm. The local people are usually willing to allow respectful foreign guests to experience this unique way of sending off the deceased to the next life.
One of the surprising things is that the person who is being cremated may have already been dead for a number of years. The deceased’s family will save until they can afford the cremation ceremony. The Ngaben is the most important event in a persons life (or death) in Bali and no expense is spared.
Ubud Cremation Ceremony
During my stay in Bali I was fortunate to meet wonderful friendly people and to gain some insight into their personal lives. I felt honoured when my guide invited me to attend a cremation ceremony in Ubud. All members of the deceased’s family, plus friends and associates attend an Ngaben. Attendees include everyone, from the very young to the very old. This amazing event afforded me the opportunity to take a multitude of photos of the interesting people of Bali.
Ngaben Ceremony Potraits – The Young
Cremation ceremonies in Bali entail carrying the deceased for considerable distances to open air crematoriums. The procession tends to be crowded but I undertook to follow it through the streets of Ubud. I am glad I did.
As the Ngaben parade wound its way up the street towards the cremation site I found an elevated spot from which to view the proceedings. These two boys and their mother were kind enough to give me an overview of the event unfolding before us.
Ngaben Ceremony Potraits – The Captivating
All the ladies attending the cremation were dressed in colourful skirts and beautiful white tops. This young lady had a most captivating smile.
Ngaben Ceremony Potraits – The Interesting
Bali Cremation Tower
The body of the deceased is placed in an ornate sculptured cow and carried through the streets on a funeral tower.
Bali Sacred Cremation Cow
The sacred Ngaben cow or Lembu is made of bamboo and wood. During the official burning of the body, both the Lembu and and tower are set alight. Gas burners are used to increase the intensity of the fire to ensure the body is cremated correctly.