“Balinese Cremation”

The priest preparing the deceased body for ngaben, 2010.

In refinding my self, either as a person or a photographer, Bali was my chosen place. Because of its strong culture and tradition, I feel most peaceful and spiritual as their daily activities surrounded by religious things. People live more like a robot in big modern cosmopolitan, everybody is busy with their own business. Connection between people is poor. Sometimes you even don’t know or talk to your neighbours. But it’s different here in Bali. In each village or Banjar as they call it, they have 3 pura or temple, each with different purpose. And in their banjar life, everybody always involves in ceremony or rituals be it personal or mass ritual. So in Bali, my feeling as human being is ignited once again. I can feel the interconnection of my self as a human being with other people in spiritual aspect, so it’s easier to understand them as well. It’s like we all have the same circle of fate, born and die.

During some of my travel, I stayed in Runa, a museum for silver jewellery owned by Adriaan Palar who is an interior designer, a painter and also a photographer. My best friend brought me to Adriaan’s compound and introduced me to him. Soon we engaged in conversation about photography and he suddenly offered me to stay in his house, which I accepted.

One day after breakfast, his employee told Adriaan that their village was going to have a Balinese mass cremation. What a lucky coincidence ! I have never seen any single ngaben yet and now it’s a mass ngaben. He decided to bring me there to see it. I never attended such ceremony so I felt so excited. We prepared our gear and went to the location for the ceremony.

It was hectic and I felt the energy in the air. The people flowing in and the ceremony was on. All I want to do was have fun and shoot some pictures so working spontaneously was best. I forgot all the commercials do’s and don’t, just shooting straight from the heart. Suddenly, I felt the urgency to move next to the side of the road as I know something was coming. And it was true, as the crowd was approaching and I could only got it from this side.

Music is also part of procession in Ngaben. 2010.

Women carrying offerings. Banjar Lodtunduh. 2010.

Even children also participated in procession. Lodtunduh 2010.

Balinese have very complex tradition that still applied in their everyday life. From their birth until death they have each ceremony for its purpose. Regarding the death they have traditional cremation either mass or personal one, called Ngaben. In this mass ngaben the people dug out all the remains of the deceased and wrap them with a cloth for that purpose. Later on they lay it together with the belongings and offerings inside a statue of their choice then burned together.

Togetherness in Ngaben. 2010.

Fun in tradition. 2010.

All in one place, the wrapped bones, statues for the deceased bones and belongings. 2010.

What interest me is not the destination of the procession which is the cremation, but the energy, the spirit, the togetherness that bring this event into such grand ceremony or if I might say, like an orchestra. Honestly I didn’t see any sadness in the people’s faces. It is more like they have fun in this ceremony.

Everyone tied with their karma. When they pass away someday the procession will be theirs. Oneness in Ngaben in Lodtunduh. 2010.

The ambience of ngaben.

Family members each carrying things walked in circle prior to mass ngaben while others preparing the statues.

The bones of the deceased was in the white coffin. After proper preparation along with the offering and other belongings would be closed inside the statue for cremation.

Roast piglet as an offering.

Last but not least, this moment was shot when I got into parking area.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s