Ngaben Is A Balinese Cremation Ceremony

Ngaben is a Balinese cremation ceremony, an ancient funeral ritual of the Balinese people that allows the deceased to depart this world properly and transition preparedly into another life within the cycle of birth and death. Ngaben has gained wide recognition in the West, becoming a unique attraction of the island. It is always a lavish, vibrant, and dramatic event involving members of the entire community, and sometimes multiple communities on the island.
For the Balinese, death is considered one of the pivotal moments in a person's spiritual life, and the family of the deceased is responsible for conducting a dignified cremation ceremony.
From the moment of death until the completion of the ritual, the deceased is treated as if sleeping. No one cries because the departed is only temporarily absent from this world. After some time, they will reincarnate or achieve final liberation (Moksha) from the cycle of death and rebirth.
On the day of the Ngaben ceremony, the timing is always coordinated with the temple priest and representatives of the local community (banjar). On the actual day of cremation, the body of the deceased is placed in a special sarcophagus, which is then placed inside a large bull-shaped structure called a "lembu" or a temple-like structure made of papier-mâché and wood. The sarcophagus with the deceased is carried through the streets, following a deliberately intricate path rather than a direct route, and ultimately, it is cremated.
This procession is intended to confuse evil spirits and prevent them from reaching the body of the deceased throughout their journey in this world. The central moment of the ceremony is the cremation of the sarcophagus with the body inside. It is believed that the fire releases the soul of the deceased from this world, brings them closer to the five universal elements, and initiates the process of reincarnation.
The Ngaben ceremony is very expensive and does not necessarily take place immediately after death. Representatives of elite castes cremate the deceased within three days. Lower castes sometimes organize group ceremonies or wait until a ceremony in a wealthier family occurs to join them. During the waiting period, the deceased is buried in the ground and then retrieved for the ceremony.
Sometimes, this waiting period can last for decades.
After the cremation, the ashes of the deceased will be scattered to the wind, but this is part of a separate ceremony.
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