The last ceremony that should be done by Balinese Hindus in the human circle is the Ngaben ceremony. Ngaben ceremony is a cremation ritual to burn the deceased body to set it free from worldly ties and send it to the next life. Not only Ngaben, but Bali also has 3 names for this cremation ceremony. There are, Ngaben, Plebon, and Pretiwaan. Ngaben is a cremation ceremony for ordinary people, Plebon is for the royal family and Pretiwaan for the highest priest.
Cremation ceremony is commonly in another region or another religion also, but cremation in Bali is quite unique.
When visiting Bali you may rarely see Balinese held this ceremony. It’s because most families in Bali decide to do it later after a few years to save money due to the expenses. Yes, the cremation ceremony is quite expensive because the bigger scale of cremation there is a lot of money needed. Until the day of cremation arrives, the bodies of the deceased are buried temporarily. A bit different from an ordinary person, the highest priest/Pemangku (a religious leader in a village) should be cremated as soon as possible. Cremation ceremony should fall on a particular day according to the Balinese calendar.
The procession of Ngaben
On the day of the ceremony the body of the deceased place on coffin. This coffin is placed inside a big statue of cow or buffalo or sometimes a temple too made from woods and paper. And then the villagers will carry the statue with men and women wearing their traditional outfits with the same color. The highest priest stood in the highest tower containing the body with another man, usually, the eldest son or closest relative of the passed away. The villagers will make like a parade, there are some villagers who carry the statue, some of them playing traditional music with the Balinese instrument and the woman will carry the offerings.
Sometimes the parade will stop, the villagers who carried the statue will stop too, and sometimes they will turn in a circle. They are trying to make the spirit confused for never going back to his home and haunt his family. The spirit must move on.
In Bali every 3 or 5 years there will be a collective cremation in each village. It’s held by the village council to help the families who haven’t cremate their deceased family yet. This collective cremation is usually called Atiwa Tiwa Kinembulan/Ngaben Ngerit or Ngaben massal.
In Bali, every son must hold the proper cremation ceremony to their parents, this is an obligation. If an eldest has no children so the obligation must be done by the closest relative.