The island of Bali is not only home to the gods but also where their dead are ritually cremated (ngaben) For the Balinese the Atma or soul can only be fully released from its earthly life through a purification ceremony without which it may never know peace or continue its journey to its next life. Cremating the dead only came to the island after the spread of the Hindu Javanese kingdom of Majapahit. These non Hindu traditions are still practiced by the indigenous Balinese known as Bali Aga inhabitants of villages of Trunyan and Tenganan. In Trunyan the dead are left to decay in a special burial ground reachable only by a small boat. Royal cremations are mostly spectacular with joyful and colourful processions. Here are some images I took of the royal cremations in Karangasem and Ubud. I was invited for the two days funerary ceremony of Dr Anak Agung Made Djelantik from the Royal House of Puri Karangasem.
I was also able to attend the spectacular royal cremation in Ubud and although it’s been awhile now it remained a memorable event. Colourful sarcophagus in the form of large decorative towers and the golden bull (lembu) carried by bearers make twisting turns at road junctions to finally arrived at the cremation grounds.
A few days later the ashes are thrown into the sea with the last rites for the dead … and so the soul is released from this world.