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Ngaben: Balinese Cremation Ceremony

Ngaben or the Cremation Ceremony is the ritual performed to send the dead through the transition to his next life. The village Kul Kul, hanging in the tower of the village temple, will sound a certain beat to announce the departure of the deceased. 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.

Every Balinese family has the responsibility to ensure that a proper ngaben takes place if a family member dies. If this does not happen this will have severe consequences for the deceased and his/her family.

The preparations for these people are always the best one can have, as the best priest is called upon, the holiest water is used and the most appropriate date is chosen for the cremation.  Unlike the funeral, the ngaben is a joyful occasion as the soul of the deceased is now ready to continue its journey to heaven followed by reincarnation.

First, body will be bathed in front of pengijeng accompanied by family and pemangku (ritual leaders). Then the body will be brought to the Wadah (a building form that will be carried to the graveyard). Local people or banjar will help paraded to be brought to the graveyard. Previously, Lembu (symbolic embodiment of an black ox) paraded prior to the graveyard accompanied by baleganjur. After Lembu arrive at graveyard, Wadah will be brought to the graveyard. Then the bodies will be fed into The Lembu by means of the ceremony. After going through the ritual with appropriate of Pemangku at 12, the Lembu will be burned.

Combustion ash will be taken and put into a coconut. The next ceremony will be led by a Pedanda (Hinduism Pastor) accompanied by Balinese traditional music, that is Angklung. In this ritual will be accompanied by a ceremony praying together. After that, the combustion ash will be brought to shore accompanied by Angklung. On the beach, Pemangku will perform the ritual before disposal. Using Jukung (Balinese boats without machine), combustion ash discharged into the sea.


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  1. Good afternoon,

    I am Marta García , student of Humanities at the University Pompeu Fabra , in Barcelona (Spain).
    Thank you for this post is very interesting. I am studying the rituals of Bali. I’m interested in doing a thesis on the Ngaben . I need to know if you can give me more information. Books, web pages or any contact information is good.

    Thank you very much in advance,

    We are in contact,


  2. this is old traditional culture in indonesia, and still more again in other city