“Mass cremations or Ngaben Massal (or sometimes in Balinese referred to as ‘Ngerit’) have become a way of life in village Bali – it represents considerable savings in time and money. It’s also convenient to catch up with families of the deceased and pay one’s respects in one centralized event! As Balinese tradition provides anyway for a system of ‘depositing’ the deceased either in fire or by burial, to be invoked or exhumed later for the actual ritual cremation (‘ngaben’ or ‘pelebon’), it really wasn’t a stretch to set schedules for joint, mass cremations. We explore the visuals of the actual ‘big day’, the main climactic part of the entire process of funerary rites.
All photos ©Rio Helmi except where indicated.
Children or other descendants of the deceased often ride the sarcophagi to the cemetery.
Ubud princes sit in the palace viewing pavilion above the crowd.
On the way to the cemetery. photo ©Agus Suka Adi Surya
The hardest bit for the bearers (especially those at the back!) is the steep ramp up to the cemetery.
While the men haul it up, the kids hold on to it.
Pulling into the cemetery proper….
The ‘petak’ temporary homes for the ‘puspa’ spirit effigies where pre- and post-cremation rituals take place. From here, once the sarcophagi are in place, they will be ceremonially carried to the cemetery proper.
Eventually it’s time to bring all 96 of the “Puspa” effigies of the deceased to their respective sarcophagi.
A sarcophagus patiently waits… photo ©Agus Suka Adi Surya
A ‘uniform’ family snaps at the first lighting of their relative’s sarcophagus
Photographers resort to all the tricks to get their shot. photo©Agus Suka Adi Surya.
Then the serious burning starts, row by row.
The sarcophagus are doused and thrown over the edge to make room for the others…
Professional, migrant recycling scavengers from Jember in East Java going through the debris for recyclables even before the burning stopped.
The chaotic systems of Balinese ceremony… photo ©Agus Suka Adi Surya
The ‘ashes’ are gathered and are ritually prepared for the last phase.