The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese " Ngaben ", Indonesia

Indonesia is unique from a variety of tribes and cultures. Because of the large number of tribes in Indonesia, many unique rituals in everyday life are scattered in various regions. These unique rituals seem to spread in every inch of community activity. an example of one of them is like a ritual or tradition of death. Well, as is known, for almost all ethnic groups in Indonesia, death is a very big moment. like birth or marriage, death must also be welcomed with a big event even though it's a grieving event. Well, that's what the Balinese Hindu community does. They held a unique tradition that was carried out to give people who were gone. the tradition is named ngaben.

For Balinese Hindus, Ngaben is one part of their lives. Through Ngaben, the family expressed their sincerity for the departure of their members. there are several meanings of Ngaben, one of which comes from fire words both real and abstract from the hindu principle mantra. Now, to find out more about Ngaben, please see the explanation below.


Ngaben ceremonies are ceremonial burning or cremation of Balinese Hindus. Balinese Hindus have rituals in treating ancestors or relatives who have died. they held a cremation ceremony called Ngaben, which is the ritual of burning dead bodies as a symbol of purification of the spirit of the deceased.

As long as the word ngaben is three opinions. some say it comes from the word beya which means provision, there are those who trace the word ngabu or become ash and associate with the word Ngaben which is purification using fire. In Hinduism, The God or Brahma is also known as the god of fire. Therefore, the Ngaben Ceremony can be seen as burning impurities in the form of coarse bodies attached to the spirit (called pralina or melting bodies) and returning the spirit to the God.

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

Ngaben rituals are held lively with hundreds of thousands of people consisting of relatives and locals. This funeral ceremony carried out in Bali is carried out especially by Hindus, where Hinduism is the majority religion on the island of Thousand Temples. in the Panca Yadnya, this ceremony is included in Pitra Yadnya, which is a ceremony intended for male spirits. The meaning of the Ngaben ceremony is essentially to return the spirit of the ancestor (the deceased person) to its place of origin. a Pedanda says humans have Bayu, Sabda, Idep and after he died Bayu, Sabda, Idep was returned to Brahma, Wisnu, Siwa.

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

The Ngaben ceremony is usually carried out by the family of relatives of the deceased, as a form of respect for a child's respect for his parents. in one ceremony this usually costs 15 million to 20 million rupiah.This ceremony is usually done lively, there is no sob, because in Bali there is a belief that we should not cry over people who have died because it can hinder the journey of the spirit to its place.

Ngaben day is determined by looking for a good day which is usually determined by Pedanda. A few days before the Ngaben ceremony carried out the family assisted by the community will make "Bade and Lembu" very majestic made of wood, colorful paper and other materials. "Bade and Lembu" is the place for the bodies to be carried out by Ngaben.


Bali is one of the provinces in Indonesia which has the largest population of Hindus, with the presence of this Hindu religion the Balinese people have faith like Hindus in general who have faith in spirits. according to this community after a person dies, his spirit remains alive for that they have a unique ceremony in the administration of someone who passes away called Pitra Yajna where the series of ceremonies is commonly known as Ngaben / Palebon / Pralina etc. andadjusted to the level and position of someone who is worth "Desa-Kala-Patra-Nista-Madya-Utama".

.Ngaben is generally defined as a corpse ceremony, although from the origin of etymology, it is not appropriate, because there is a tradition of Ngaben which is not through burning dead bodies. Ngaben actually comes from the word beya which means cost or provision, the word beya in the active sentence (doing work) becomes meyanin. The word meyanin has become the standard language for mentioning the sawa wadhana ceremony. It's can also called Ngabeyain. this word is then pronounced shortly, becoming ngaben.

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

Ngaben or meyanin in the other standard terms mentioned in palm oil is atiwa. said Atatiwa, even though this cannot be searched for, the origin is probably derived from the native language of the Archipelago (Austronesian), considering that this kind of ceremony we also encounter in Dayak tribes, in Kalimantan, is called tiwah. so also in Batak we hear tibal to mention the ceremony after death.

The ceremony of ngaben or meyanin or also atiwa-atiwa for Hindus in the Tengger mountains is known as entas-entas. The word entas reminds us of the main ceremony of Ngaben in Bali. namely Tirta Pangentas which serves to break the relationship of the love of the Atma (spirit) with his physical body and deliver Atma to the pitara. In other languages ​​in Bali, which connotes subtly, Ngaben is called Palebon which comes from the word lebu which means prathiwi or land.

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

thus Palebon means making prathiwi (ash). To make the land there are two ways, namely by burning and implanting it into the soil. But the way to burn is the fastest. The place to process it into a soil is called the pottery and the area is called tunon. tunon comes from the word tunu which means burning. While the term comes from the word basmi which means destroyed. Another tunon is said to be setra or sema. Setra means tegal while sema comes from the smasana word which means Durga. The Goddess Durga who lives in Tunon.

Among the opinions above, there is one more opinion related to that question. That the word Ngaben comes from the word 'fire'(Api in indonesian)  The Api gets the prefix 'ng' to 'respond' and gets the 'an' to be 'Ngapen' suffix which after experiencing the password process becomes 'reward'. and because the phoneme changes' p 'to' b 'according to the law of sound change ‘b-p-m-w' then becomes' ngaben '. Thus the word Ngaben means 'towards fire'.

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

In general, the Ngaben is intended to process the return of Panca Mahabhuta in this great realm and deliver Atma (Spirit) to Pitra by severing her attachment to that earthly body. by deciding on the love of Atma (Spirit) with his world, He will be able to return to its nature, namely the nature of Pitra. then the purpose of the ceremony is so that ragha sarira (body) can quickly return to its origin, namely Panca Maha Bhuta in this world and Atma can safely go to the nature of Pitra. therefore Ngaben cannot be postponed, it should be done as soon as he dies.

Hinduism in India has been implementing this method since time immemorial, where in a short time it has been tabled, there is no ceremony that is complicated, only the Pancaka burning place, the fragrant wood as the wood is needed, and it seems to be chanting or chanting that continues to flow. Hinduism in Bali also in principle follows these methods. It's just still providing an alternative to wait a while, maybe it is intended for the gathering of relatives, waiting for adults (good days) according to sasih etc, but it may not exceed one year. but actually by taking the type of simple Ngaben that has been determined in Lontar, actually the kebaben can be carried out by anyone and under what circumstances.

The important thing is the main purpose of the Ngaben ceremony can be carried out. while waiting for a year for diaben, sawa (body / rough body of a deceased person) must be buried (buried) in setra (grave). To not cause anything undesirable, sawa rituals are also made. and the process of returning Panca Maha Bhuta, especially the Elementary Prayer, will run in this ceremony of independence. Ngaben always connotes waste, because without big costs it is often not able to drink.

from here comes an opinion that is certainly not true, namely: Ngaben comes from the word Ngabehin, meaning excessive. So without excessive funds, people will not dare to abuse. This mistaken assumption then leads. finally there are many Hindus who cannot afford to drink, because of limited costs. As a result, his ancestors were buried for years. This is very contrary to the basic concept of the Ngaben ceremony.


after knowing what was the background of the Ngaben ceremony, it was possible to formulate the purpose and purpose of the ceremony. in broad outline, ngaben is intended to process the return or return of elements that make the body or ragha to its origin in this world and to deliver Atma to the realm of Pitra by severing its attachment to the worldly body (ragha sarira).

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

in the journey Atma needed provisions or "beya" which were souvenirs for her four siblings who had been waiting in the form as times, namely: Dorakala, Mahakala, Jogor Manik, Suratma. With stock or beya it is expected that Atma can return safely. then the purpose of the ceremony is for the ragha sasira to quickly return to its origin in this world and for the atma to safely be able to go to the realm of Pitra. Therefore, actual kebaben cannot be delayed. It should be so dead must be do it soon.

Hinduism in Bali also in principle follows these methods. it's just still providing an alternative to waiting temporarily. Given a temporary wait, maybe intended for the gathering of relatives, waiting for a good day according to sasih (month) and others, but do not wait for a year, if passing can become the bhuta sawa.

so actually we in Bali are only given the opportunity not to pass a year. While waiting a year for diaben, sawa must be buried (buried) in setra (grave). not cause an undesirable thing, the sawa made in the ceremony is made by the ceremonies of tirtha pangentas (holy water). And the process of returning ragha sarira to nature will run in this maphendem ceremony. So the purpose of the Ngaben ceremony is basically:
  • releasing the Atma from worldly bonds
  • To get safety and pleasure
  • To get heaven in the morning the Pitra


Maybe we've seen, when there is a procession of Ngaben ceremonies passing through the intersection, it will be rotated 3 times in a counterclockwise direction. For ordinary people or who do not understand the meaning will ask, why should it be rotated and what does it mean?

The Traditional Ritual Ceremony of The Balinese Ngaben, Indonesia

in this ceremony there is no family cry because they assume that the corpse only did not exist for a while and carry out reincarnation which is to live the last life in Moksha which they are familiar with when the soul has escaped reincarnation and the wheel of death.

The Following is a series of Ngaben traditional ceremonies in Bali:

This ceremony is intended to summon the Atma. This ceremony is carried out if someone dies outside his home or at the hospital. in each region in Bali can vary depending on local procedures and traditions, for example, there are those who conduct at crossroads, road junction, and local graves.

Nyiramin / Ngemandusin
Namely the ceremony of bathing the body, usually done on the home page of the family concerned. This procession is also accompanied by the giving of symbols such as jasmine flowers in the nasal cavity, glass halves above the eyes, lead leaves in eyebrows, and other equipment whose purpose is to restore functions from parts of the body that are not used to their origin and when the spiritthe late reincarnated so that a complete / non-disabled body was awarded.

Ngajum Kajang
This is a piece of white paper written with magical characters by stakeholders, priests or local indigenous elders. after writing, the relatives and descendants of the person concerned will carry out the ceremonial ceremony by pressing the kajang as much as 3x, as a symbol of the steadiness of the relatives to let go of the late departure and unite the hearts of relatives so that the deceased can be withquickly go to the next world.

Ngaskara means purification of the spirit of the deceased. This purification is carried out with the aim that the spirit in question can be united with God and can be the guide of his living relatives in the world.

Mameras means successful. this ceremony is carried out if the deceased already has grandchildren. Because grandchildren will lead the deceased through prayer.

Papegatan means breaking up, the meaning of this ceremony is to break worldly relations and love from relatives of the deceased, because both of these things will hinder the journey of the spirit to God. with this ceremony the family means that they have sincerely released the deceased's departure to a better place. the means of this ceremony are offerings (banten) which are arranged on a stone mortar and on top of which are filled with two branches of the dadap tree which are shaped like a goal and spread white thread on both branches of the tree. later this thread will be broken down by relatives and bearers before leaving the house to break up.

Parakiriman Ngutang
After the papegatan ceremony it will be followed by pakiriminan to the local grave, the corpse and its kajangan are then raised to the top of the Bade / Wadah, namely the corpse bearer tower (this is not absolutely necessary, can be replaced with an ordinary coffin called Pepaga). from the house concerned members of the community will carry all the ceremonial equipment along with the corpse accompanied by the sound of Baleganjur (Balinese typical gong) who are timid and excited, or the sound of angklung that seems sad.

on the way to the tomb of the corpse it will be paraded 3 times counterclockwise which means as a symbol of returning the elements of Panca Maha Bhuta to their respective places. besides that this turnover is also meaningful: Spin 3x in front of the deceased's house as a symbol of separation from relatives. Spins 3 times at the intersection and village junction as a symbol of separation from the community. Spun 3 times in front of the grave as a symbol of separation from this world.

this is the burning ceremony of the corpse, the body is laid in the space provided with offerings and offerings with its own philosophical meaning then sprinkled by the priest who leads the ceremony with Tirta Pangentas which acts as an abstract fire accompanied by Mantra Pujafrom the priest, after it was finished then the bodies were burned to charred, the bones of the combustion were then crushed and strung together in ivory coconuts which had been released from the water.

Nganyud is washed away the ashes on the river or in the sea. Nganyud means as a ritual to wash away all the defilements that are still left in the spirit of the deceased.

The Makelud ceremony is usually held 12 days after the funeral ceremony. the meaning of the ceremony is to cleanse and re-purify the family environment due to the sadness of family abandonment. The philosophical 12-day sadness was taken from Wiracarita Mahabharata, when the Pandawa experienced a 12-year sentence in the middle of the forest.

well, that was the explanation of the tradition or ritual of kebaben carried out by the Balinese Hindu community to give away the departure of the closest person. Hopefully it can be useful.