Indonesia - Bali vol.2 (World Trip Day 70)
We had the chance to see a very unique side of Bali during our stay. It wasn’t in the plan, but just happened that an important event fell on one of the days we were here. Ngaben, a cremation ceremony in Balinese Hinduism only happens once every three years, according to the locals. It’s a funeral ritual that sends the deceased to the next life or even moksha, free from the cycle of reincarnation.
Preparations started long before the event. In the villages, people built lembu, ox-formed containers, to be used during the ceremony. At night before we headed to bed, we could hear the rehearsal of musical performances. On the day of Ngaben, Eldwen helped us to dress up in Sarongs and Indonesian hats to pay respect to the local ritual. We got to the graveyard at noon, thousands of locals in their traditional gorgeous outfits were waiting for the event to begin. The parade teams carried huge lembu to the graveyard, accompanied by traditional music. The whole atmosphere was filled with joy, not a tear was shed.
After all the lembu were placed, the bodies of the deceased were carried by their family members and put into the lembu. Women lined up to offer flowers, food, and prayers for the very last time. Under the sun, the graveyard emitted a peculiar smell. And after that, all the lembu (ox-formed containers) with the bodies, flowers and food were burned to ash. We were astonished by the power of the fire, it’s a traditional ritual but powered by fuel, about a dozen of gigantic lembu were turned into ash in half an hour.
It was an impressive event to be a part of. Seeing how the locals carry out a funeral like a festival. I guess to them, death is not the end of a life, but a new beginning of a better one. The physical body goes back to the nature and the spirit will continue its cycle. This belief is rooted deeply in their culture. I wonder if death is a scary thing to them? I wonder if that’s the reason that Balinese are so laid-back, and are able to free themselves from the greed of wealth and fame?
(Everything will be turned into ashes at the end)