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BALINESE NGABEN CEREMONY IS A HINDU CREMATION CEREMONY IN BALI TO DELIVER THE DECEASED TO THE NEXT LIFE

Balinese Ngaben ceremony is a Hindu cremation ceremony that aims to deliver the deceased to the next life. In this ceremony, the body of the deceased will be placed as if it is sleeping, and the family lovingly cares for it as if it is sleeping. No tears are shed, as the deceased is considered to be only temporarily gone and will experience reincarnation or attain immortality or Moksa (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation and death). The Ngaben process is the most important moment for Hindus, because through this procession, the deceased is prayed to unite with Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa. If reincarnated, it is believed that he will live a good life according to his current karma. The importance of the Ngaben ceremony is reflected in the Hindu belief that without going through it, the spirit of the deceased cannot reincarnate or unite with God. Therefore, the Ngaben procession plays a very important role for Balinese Hindus.

All you need to know about Ngaben Ceremony

  • Proper Day for Ngaben Ceremony
  • Ngaben is Important Ceremony
  • Process Ngaben Ceremony
  • Ngaben Philosophy

Proper Day for Ngaben Ceremony

In the Ngaben procession, the selection of the day is not done arbitrarily. Families who have lost a family member will visit a priest to ask for blessings and determine a good day to carry out the Ngaben ceremony. After getting a suitable date, detailed preparations for the cremation ceremony can begin. In addition, the cremation procession differs based on the prevailing caste. Higher castes will use a puppet bull as a vehicle for the deceased, while lower castes use a bade as a place for the corpse. The day chosen for the Ngaben ceremony is always consulted with a specialist on the day of the ceremony. On the day of the ceremony, the body is placed in a coffin, which is then placed in a sarcophagus resembling a buffalo (Lembu) or in a temple structure (Wadah) made of paper and wood. The buffalo or temple is then taken to the cremation site in a procession that does not run in a straight line. This is to confuse the evil spirits and keep them away from the deceased.

Ngaben is Important Ceremony

Ngaben is one of the most important ceremonies in Bali, as the human body is made up of 10 basic elements. Five of these are known as Panca Maha Butha, or the five elements of the macrocosm: Pertiwi (earth), Apah (water), Teja (fire), Bayu (air), and Akasa (ether or space). Meanwhile, the other five elements are known as Panca Tan Matra, which are the five elements that affect us through the senses: Ganda (nose or smell), Rasa (tongue), Rupa (eyes), Sparsa (sense of touch), and Sabda (ears). The main purpose of the Ngaben ceremony is to speed up the process of returning the body back to its origin, the Panca Maha Butha in this world, and allow the Atma (spirit) to immediately go to the Divine Realm. The philosophical basis of Ngaben includes Panca Sradha, which are the five basic frameworks of Hinduism, namely Brahman, Atman, Karmaphala, Samsara, and Moksa. In particular, the Ngaben ceremony is based on love for the ancestors and devotion of children to their parents. This ceremony is a step to return the five elements of Maha Butha to the Creator. Ngaben is also known as pitra yadnya, in accordance with the teachings in the Yama Purwana Tattwa lontar. “Pitra” means ancestors or those who have passed away, while “yadnya” means sacred offerings made with sincerity.

Process Ngaben Ceremony

After the burning and cremation process is complete, there is one last stage in the Ngaben ceremony, because the Atman or spirit still has other elements that need to be eliminated, namely Panca Karmendria or five major sins that we may commit. Panca Karmendria consists of: Padendria (sins that come from our life path), Payundria (sins that come from our food in life), Panendria (sins that come from the work of our hands), Upastenindia (sins that come from our sexual behaviour), and Wakindriya (sins that come from our speech). The ceremony to “remove” these sins is known as “Nyekah”. Although this ceremony does not make us free from these sins, Nyekah is actually a form of recapitulation of the sins we commit. The result becomes a report owned by the “Atman” or spirit, which will then determine whether the Atman will reincarnate or not. This report is referred to as Karma Wasana. Thus, “Ngaben” basically serves to help the Atman reach its status as quickly as possible as “Brahman” or God at the next level. There are several layers of “wrapping” that need to be removed through the performance of Ngaben and Nyekah ceremonies, as part of the spirit’s journey to a higher state.

Ngaben Philosophy

For those who are still alive, the concept of Ngaben and Nyekah provides a good philosophy that reminds us to always create good karma during life. This is so that our reports or Karma Wasana can guide us towards Moksatham Jagadhita Ya Ca Ithi Dharma, which is freedom from the cycle of reincarnation. This shows that Hinduism is not just about getting to heaven, but about trying to unite oneself with Brahman or God. The cremation process for those who have died has the purpose of accelerating the return of the gross body to its source in nature, the five mahabhuta: pertiwi (earth), apah (water), teja (fire), bayu (air), and akasa (space). For the Balinese, Ngaben plays a very important role because this ceremony allows the family to free the spirit of the deceased from the bonds of the world and deliver it to heaven, awaiting reincarnation. So Ngaben is the process of purifying the spirit by burning it with fire, which is believed to be the manifestation of Lord Brahma, so that it can return to the Creator. This fire is thought to cleanse any impurities attached to the body and spirit of the deceased.

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