Wednesday, November 3, 2010

bali ngaben

The Bali royal families, foreign dignitaries and thousands of residents of Peliatan and Ubud flocked to Peliatan Palace to witness the grand cremation of the late King of Peliatan IX, Ida Dewa Agung Peliatan, on Tuesday.

Royal cremation: A wooden sarcophagus in the shape of a white bull with gold plated horns makes its way along Ubud’s crowded streets on Tuesday. The coffin  of the late Ida Dewa Agung Peliatan IX, the last king of Peliatan, with a  25-meter-tall bade cremation tower on it is seen in the background. The remains of the Balinese king were later moved from the tower and placed inside the sarcophagus  and cremated. Almost 7,000 men from 30 hamlets in Ubud took turns  to help carry the sarcophagus, the bade and the naga banda (dragon) during the funeral procession. JP/Agung Parameswara

Prior to the grand palebon agung — a cremation ritual for members of the Bali royal families — Peliatan’s royal family and nobility paid their last respects to the late King, who died from diabetes last August.

Hindu High Priest Ida Pedanda Lingsir Padang Tegal, who presided over the religious ritual, fired a sacred arrow into a 6-meter-tall dragon-shaped bridge called naga banda in a symbol of destroying the earthly desires that tormented the late king, and thus releasing his soul from the temptations of the material world.

The naga banda, presented by the Ubud royal family, was used to carry the body of the late King Peliatan to a 25-meter-tall cremation tower called a bade.

The tower has 11 pyramid-shaped roofs signifying the king’s lineage from the noblemen of East Java’s Majapahit Kingdom, which conquered the island in the 14th century.

Thousands of villagers enthusiastically carried the 20-ton bade from Peliatan Palace to Royal Dalem Cemetery. They were followed by a long procession of women carrying colorful offerings and other items as part of the ritual.

All of the members of Bali’s royal families attended the procession in the most formal of royal attire.

It took more than one hour for the hundreds of pallbearers to carry the bade over the 1.5 kilometers from Peliatan Palace, where the king had been lying in state, to the cemetery.

Pan Mandi, a theater artist from Gianyar, was one of the bade carriers.

“I am so honored to take part in the ritual. This is a sacred ritual and a reflection of our respect for the late King of Peliatan,” Pan Mandi said.

Traffic in the Ubud area ground to a halt as a sea of spectators flocked to the event. Power was turned off in the area to ensure the 11-tier cremation tower was not damaged by power cables.

Local and foreign visitors waited patiently under a scorching sun for the procession to make its way to them. Most restaurants, cafes, shops and traditional markets were closed in the morning out of respect for the event, which took the palace months to prepare for.

Peliatan Palace had also held a long series of rituals before Tuesday’s cremation ceremony.

Tjokorda Putra Nindya, the King’s nephew and the heir to the Peliatan throne, said he must follow in the late King’s footsteps by getting the palace more involved in social and cultural activities in Bali.

“Before he passed away, the late King asked me to become more actively involved in cultural dialogue for the betterment of Bali.

“We have a similar family lineage to the Ubud Royal Family, but they are more active in society,” Tjokorda Putra Nindya said.

On Oct. 7, the Palace declared Tjokorda Putra Nindya would be crowned the new king of Peliatan.

Power was turned off in the area to ensure the 11-tier cremation tower was not damaged
by power cables.

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