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Balinese Cremations and Funerals

Balinese Cremations and Funerals

Across the world, the practice of cremation in some form is quite common. However common cremation is, there is a world of difference between how and why different cultures practice cremation. Here in the West, cremation is rising in popularity due to the rising costs of traditional funerals as well as its somewhat lighter carbon footprint compared to regular funerals and burials. The flexibility of cremation is also appealing to Westerners. Cremation urns can be beautiful remembrance urns, and there are a variety of ways to honor your deceased loved one with unique urns designed for scattering your loved one’s ashes.


Image of a Traditional Ngaben in Bali, Indonesia

Ngaben is the Hindu funeral ritual of Bali, Indonesia. The Hindu people of Bali believe that the soul of a person is trapped in its body until the body can be appropriately cremated. The soul of the dead person is released through ritual cremation, allowing it to escape into the heavenly realms. According to Hindu theology, there is competition between the hellish lower realms and the upper heavenly realms to capture the soul. A proper cremation increases the soul’s chances of making it into heaven.

A quick Ngaben is considered ideal, but the full ceremony is quite expensive, so there is often an in-between time between death and the ceremony. In the interim time, the body is buried while waiting for its Ngaben. This allows families to pool resources and cremate many of their dead at the same time. Once the funds are secured, families will choose a spiritually auspicious day, and make the coffins, or bade, to carry the dead bodies. Only then is the Ngaben announced.

Before the day of the funeral, families will construct patulangan, which are enormous wooden pyres in which the body will be burned. These structures are often shaped like the lembu, or bull, or built to look like temples or wadah. The patulangan is made from wood and bamboo.

To prepare the corpse for cremation, it is washed and dressed in native attire. Family and friends gather to say a final goodbye and offer prayers for the deceased’s safe ascension into heaven. Then the grieving family carries the corpse to where the cremation or burning will take place. Accompanying the procession is gamelan music and singing as they make their way to the kuburan, or cremation grounds. One of the traditions includes rotating the corpse three times if they cross a major road. This confuses the denizens of the lower realms who are trying to steal the dead person’s soul.

Once they’ve arrived at the cremation ground, the body is put inside the patulangan. Then it is time for hymns to be recited before the cremation pyre is lit. After the hymns, the cremation pyre is lit on fire while Balinese musicians play beleganjur music, which is a battle song about the soul’s fight with evil as it escapes into the heavenly realms. After twelve days, the family returns to collect the ashes of their loved one. The ashes are gathered into a coconut shell, which is then released out into the nearest ocean or lake. This is the body’s final return to the earth. While many cultures practice cremation, few do it with as much style as the Balinese people.

Cremation Urns

cremation urns

You may be choosing cremation for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s the lighter environmental impact of cremation compared to a traditional funeral and burial. Maybe it’s for religious reasons, such as if you are a practicing Hindu. Perhaps it's the lower cost of cremation compared to the rising costs of a traditional burial and funeral. Whatever your reasons and your urn needs, the Living Urn is here for you with its unparalleled collection of environmentally made, beautiful, and unique urns.

If you’re looking for a burial urn for your loved one’s ashes, consider their lovely bamboo burial urn. The bamboo urn is biodegradable, allowing for a complete return to the earth for your loved one. (For the urn to biodegrade, it needs to be buried naturally, which means the urn is placed into the ground, not a casket.) This beautiful urn can also serve as a display urn, with its glossy wood finish and lid secured with a strong birch wood locking pin, making it safe for public display.

The Living urn also has a unique selection of scattering urns, from the traditional handheld vessels to a water urn, which are designed to make scattering the ashes of your loved one on a special body of water easy and smooth. Their water urn features a dissolvable bottom that gently releases the ashes underwater. They also have an award-winning ice urn which allows the ashes to scatter as it slowly dissolves. Say goodbye to your loved one with as much style as the Balinese with the Living Urn.

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