Ngaben, Bali's Sacred Cremation Ceremony

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Ngaben, Bali's Sacred Cremation Ceremony
Ngaben, Bali's Sacred Cremation Ceremony

Denpasar, Bali - In the vibrant tapestry of Bali's rich cultural heritage, one of the most sacred and significant ceremonies is Ngaben, or the cremation ceremony. It is a ritual deeply rooted in Balinese Hinduism that revolves around the farewell of the departed souls, holding profound meaning within the unique culture of Bali

This article delves into Ngaben, its meaning, procession, and its paramount importance in Bali's cultural identity.

Ngaben is a quintessentially Balinese ceremony and a profoundly sacred moment within the island's culture. The tradition is viewed as a way to liberate the souls of the deceased from their physical vessels, enabling them to achieve moksha, the ultimate release from the cycle of reincarnation.

The Meaning of Ngaben

Literally translating to "burning of the body," Ngaben, in the Balinese context, is much more than a mere physical act of cremation. It encapsulates the core beliefs of Balinese Hinduism about life after death and the journey towards the ultimate liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth, known as samsara.

In the Hindu Balinese perspective, the human body is seen as a temporary vessel, with the eternal and sacred soul being of utmost importance. Consequently, Ngaben isn't just about honoring the deceased body but also about ushering the soul into another realm. It is a pivotal step in the soul's journey towards moksha, the ultimate spiritual goal.

The Ngaben Procession

The Ngaben procession is a meticulously orchestrated ceremony rich in symbolism and detail. It involves numerous stages, from preparation to the final act of cremation. Here's a general overview of the Ngaben procession:

1. Preparing the Deceased: The process begins with preparing the body for cremation. The body is usually cleansed and adorned with offerings of flowers and incense.

2. Arranging Offerings: The grieving family gathers offerings and food items that will be used during the ceremony. They also invite a Hindu priest to lead the proceedings.

3. Procession to the Cremation Site: The prepared body is then paraded in a procession to the cremation site, often accompanied by music and traditional dance.

4. Cremation of the Body: At the cremation site, the body is placed on a carefully arranged pyre of wood. The priest leads prayers, and the cremation process begins.

5. Gathering the Ashes: Once the body has been fully cremated, the ashes are carefully collected. These ashes are often placed in an urn known as "lebong."

6. Scattering of Ashes: The ashes are then scattered into the sea or a river, symbolizing the release of the soul from the physical world and its journey to the spiritual realm.

7. Cleanup and Final Offerings: After the ceremony, family members and attendees come together to clean the site and make final offerings to honor the departed.

The Significance of Ngaben in Balinese Culture

Ngaben holds immense importance in Balinese society for several reasons:

1. Honoring Tradition: Ngaben is a way for Balinese people to honor their traditions and Hindu beliefs. It serves as the final act of reverence for the departed.

2. Soul Liberation: It's crucial to understand that in the Balinese Hindu view, life after death is of paramount significance. Ngaben ensures a smooth transition of the departed soul towards moksha.

3. Social Bonding: Ngaben often becomes a moment for extended families to come together. It's a time when people unite to provide moral support to one another during moments of grief.

4. Cultural Heritage: This ceremony is an integral part of Bali's cultural heritage that must be preserved. It is one of the ways to ensure that the values and traditions of Balinese Hinduism endure for generations to come.

Ngaben, Bali's Sacred Cremation Ceremony
Ngaben, Bali's Sacred Cremation Ceremony


Ngaben, the cremation ceremony of Bali, is a profound and sacred ritual deeply embedded in Bali's rich cultural fabric. It is a means for the Balinese to pay their respects to the departed, guide their souls towards the ultimate spiritual goal, and keep their unique traditions alive. The Ngaben procession is a meticulously planned event filled with symbolism, all rooted in the rich and diverse culture of Bali.

In a constantly evolving world, preserving traditions like Ngaben is a way for the Balinese people to remain connected to their deep cultural roots and uphold the values that have persisted for centuries.

Thus, Ngaben continues to be an integral part of Bali's identity and cultural legacy, deserving of respect and admiration by all who encounter it.


We hope this information has provided you with a deeper understanding of Ngaben, the sacred cremation ceremony in Bali. If you'd like to add or share your experiences with Ngaben, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Thank you for reading!

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