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Saturday
Sep242011

Ngaben; The Traditional Balinese Cremation Ceremony

These photos are from a traditional Balinese cremation ceremony, or Ngaben, in Sangeh, Bali, Indonesia from our 2011 Balifornian Culture Tour.  Sangeh is located about 40 minutes north west of Ubud in the Badung Regency and home to Bukit Sari monkey forest and Temple, Pura Bukit Sari which dates back to the 17th century.

Bali-ceremony-cremationNgaben, The traditional Balinese cremation ceremony

According to Balinese tradition, this village is revered in The Ramayana. The epic Hindu poem discusses the legend of the monkey god Hanuman who must kill the evil demon Rawana who has taken over the colossal cosmic mountain named Mahameru. Mahameru was home to large Nutmeg trees filled with happy monkeys. One day a section of the mountain fell to earth onto the village of Sangeh and there have been monkeys here ever since. The tall nutmeg trees that surround the temple are found nowhere else on the island and have remained a sacred mystery.

Our good friend, Gung Adi, who’s family has lived in Sangeh for generations, invited me to partake in The Balinese Hindu cremation ceremonies taking place in his village. 

Bali-ceremony-cremation-tour

The Ngaben ritual which is executed to return the deceased soul and the five elements to heaven by burning the dead body in an elaborate ceremony which is followed by Hindu ritual procession.  It is among the most renowned cultural activities in the world for adhering to its ancient roots, dating back over a thousand years. The fortunate exception that has thankfully broken from ancient tradition is that the wives of the deceased no longer throw themselves onto the flaming funeral pyres as their dead husbands are cremated.

 

The ceremony and traditions involved in this powerful and striking ritual are covered in depth and stunning footage in the upcoming Balifornian Film’s documentary.

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Reader Comments (4)

Thank you for teaching me something new!! It will never stop amazing me that there is SO much I don't know:)) at my advanced age :))

September 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

Thanks so much Cindy. There is much more to it (this was the tame part actually). I will let you know when the documentary is complete so you can get a better feel for the whole ceremony. When you come to Bali with us we can search out a Ngaben ritual so you can see it 1st hand!
Thank you,
Michael

September 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterMichael Doliveck

It is really fascinating that the ritual has gone pretty much unchanged since its origins. Not many cultures can make such a claim on how they still go about life and death.

September 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy

Thanks Suzy
Indeed- Bali is a magical place precisely for reasons such as this. There is a profound sense of honor, spirituality and tradition here. Its apparent in everyday actions as well.
Thanks for your ongoing support!
Michael

September 28, 2011 | Registered CommenterMichael Doliveck

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