Royal Cremation of Puri Klungkung Queen, the oldest kingdom in Bali

Strange as it seems, it is in their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun.  A cremation is an occasion for gaiety and not for mourning, since it represents the accomplishment of their most sacred duty: the ceremonial burning of the corpses of the dead to liberate their souls so that they can thus attain the higher worlds and be free for reincarnation into better beings” …Miguel Covarrubias

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Bali’s cremation ceremonies must be some of the most magnificent in the world.

Hundreds of locals and tourists witness the Royal cremation of Ida Dewa Istri Putra, Queen of Puri Klungkung King. ‘Pretiwa’ or royal cremation for the body of Ida Dewa Istri Putra, was held on Sunday, June 29, 2014. Watched by thousands people from various parts of Klungkung regency and other area of Bali, procession, started in the morning till late afternoon, was run well. Approximately 6500 people were involved. They actively participate in process of the ceremony.

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This ceremony uses pemereman/bade tumpang solas (the highest cremation tower) where this bade tumpang solas should only use by the late king / empress with the title holder Ida I Dewa. This must be the last biggest royal cremation for Klungkung since no more king of Puri Klungkung who holds the title Ida I Dewa. This tower as high as 28 meters and its weigh is about 6 tons which is carried by 450 people alternately.

Ida Dewa Istri Putra passed away on December 28, 2013 due to the old age. While waiting for a good day for this pretiwa ceremony, her body was buried at Puri Agung Saraswati. She was the third wife of King of Klungkung kingdom, the late Ida I Dewa Agung Oka Geg or Ida Batara Mampeh.

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About Balinese Royal Cremation:

For, to the Balinese, it is only through the cremation of the body that the soul can be released from this temporary vessel to reach the afterlife. And, in order to do so, the correct rites and rituals must be followed, especially when it concerns those of royal lineage.  For, at death, the body must be consumed by fire for the soul to return to its five constituent elements known as the panca maha bhita (earth, wind, fire, water and ether) in order to speed it to the afterlife.

It is only through following the proper rites and rituals, therefore, that the soul can be finally freed from the body to be reborn or ultimately reach moksa, the ethereal existence in the higher realms of the upper world.

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Cremations in Bali are lavish and therefore costly. The higher the rank, the more elaborate the preparations and decorations required. For this reason, the deceased will have been buried for some time before the family or the community can gather sufficient funds.  It is common custom, therefore, for simple people to wait for the creation of a person of royal standing or religious leader and join in the rituals (called ngiring) for the cremation of their own relatives, which is allowed.

A few days before the day of the cremation the wandering soul of the buried deceased is recalled to rejoin the body, usually represented by an effigy, brought to the house to be repeatedly bathed, groomed and attended to with refreshments served by relatives.

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On the eve of the cremation, priests present offerings to the supernatural forces that are asked to open the path for the soul, while relatives pray for the release of the soul to the upper world.

The following day, the body is taken to the open ground where the cremation takes place, which is usually after the sun has passed its zenith.  When all is consumed by fire, relatives gather the ashes and bones of the deceased, and a further effigy of the dead person is constructed to be taken in procession to the sea or river, where it is cast into the water,  into the protection of the ocean.

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Following this, in the coming months or years after the cremation, when sufficient funds have been gathered, more ceremonies take place to further ensure the complete separation of the soul of its worldly attachments, in order to allow the soul to reach the upper world.  In the final ceremony, called the nyagara-gunung ceremony, the family expresses thanks to the gods of the oceans and the mountain temples, and the deified soul is enshrined in the temple, awaiting its next reincarnation or release from the cycle of rebirth.

The Pelebon ceremony is a Hindu-Balinese traditional-religious ceremony which has been upheld throughout the centuries. Witnessing the ceremony is an incredible procession and a lifetime experience.

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