Cremation or ngaben is a common ritual organized by Balinese Hindu community. However, the cremation taking place at Ubud Grand Palace is relatively different. In addition to being unique, the royal cremation performed by the descendants of the royal family draws many local people and foreign travelers. Cremation belongs to Pitri Yajna or a ceremony devoted to ancestral spirits as an obligation to the ancestors of the Hindus. It aims at cleansing the spirit of the deceased person by cremation at cemetery. For a royal family, the cremation generally has the same meaning. The difference only lies in the tradition as referring to the concept of desa (place), kala (time) and patra (situation).
One of the royal families of the Ubud Grand Palace, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, said the royal cremation held at Ubud Palace actually had the same general purpose. “In Hinduism, we know Tri Rna (three debts to be paid) namely the debt to God, debt to ancestors and debt to teacher. Well, the debt to the ancestors must be paid with cremation ceremony as a form of last devotion of a child to his parents,” he explained The man familiarly called Tjok Ace revealed that cremation at Ubud Grand Palace was very complex and took a long time, ranging from the making of Bade tower used to transport the corpse and sarcophagus such as in the form of bull used to cremate the corpse.
“Royal cremation has a relative time depending on the circumstances, starting from the preparation to the summit of ceremony. By and large, the cremation ceremony held in the palace takes place for a month or more. However, when my mother died, such ceremony took about four months as the implementation depended on auspicious day. So, during which the body was kept at funeral home.
The ceremonial procession in general, explained Tjok Ace, was started with melaspas (purification ceremony to all the elements used in the cremation) and then it was resumed with the procession from Ubud Grand Palace towards the Dalem Puri cemetery. After that, the procession was carrying the ashes into the ocean. The communities involved, explained Tjok Ace, reached hundreds of people. They started from relatives and society from 12 hamlets existing in Ubud. “Actually only four hamlets are directly involved, but some other hamlets have kinship with us and others deliberately volunteer and participate in assisting the cremation activity,” he said.
“We also involve some Brahmin priests belonging to the school of Shiva and Buddha. In addition, there are reporters, photographers and television stations covering our event as a publication to introduce the tradition of cremation in Bali. Royal cremation also has a special attraction for foreign tourists. This makes them come to see and immortalize it,” he said.
To complete the ceremony, the Ubud Grand Palace presented some sacred arts like gambang xylophone, saron, Sidakarya masks and other sacred dances. In addition, they also presented propane arts such as the dances intended for entertainment. People involved in the arts were communities around Ubud as well as those who had ties with royal family. “Not only that, even there are also foreign travelers who participate as they are interested,” he said.
“People with their own awareness lend a hand. So, we always keep this relationship. Our family are very grateful to the people who have worked together sincerely to help the procession of cremation. It is a reflection and manifestation of harmonious relationship,” explained the former Regent of Gianyar. (BTN/ocha)