A few weeks ago Ubud was shocked to hear of the tragic death of Cokorda Putra Widura, a  prince from the Ubud palace who was barely in his Thirties. He had had a severe asthma attack, and could not get medication in time. Cok Putra was well liked in the community. After weeks of preparation and various rituals, yesterday Sunday the 8th of May he was finally cremated in a royal funeral (pelebon).

Though grief is considered to be best well hidden during Balinese funerary rites, many of his relatives could barely mask their sadness, and many in Ubud’s Balinese community were also saddened. I personally knew him since he was a young boy, and even when he was very young he was always friendly, courteous and a bright. You will be missed, Cok.

words and photos ©Rio Helmi


DSCF6530Preparing for today’s royal cremation: the Brahmin priest Pedanda Siwa Griya Peling Padang Tegal performs “preline” rituals early before dawn the morning of the cremation at the Ubud palace.

DSCF6494The all-night vigils in the palace during the period of preparation were typically the scene of gambling card games

DSCF6550An exhausted palace retainer sleeps right through despite his coffee.

DSCF6547Offerings specialist Dayu Niyang Ngurah has been making and supervising the creation of offerings, (a complicated affair) for all the major ceremonies in Ubud for decades.

DSCF6628When the time came for the body to taken to the cremation ground, the mother of the deceased broke down and had to be consoled by a senior member of the family.

DSCF6655His sister and relatives struggle to keep their composure.

DSCF6689The mobile phone camera is in presence at every ceremony in Bali now.

DSCF6718As the procession begins to form outside the palace gates, amateur photographers and tourists go into a frenzy.

DSCF6746Finally the body is moved to the ‘Badé’ tower in which it will be carried to cremation ground by scores of men.

DSCF6763Overwhelmed with grief, the father comes down from the badé before it leavees for the cremation ground.

DSCF6803The Bleganjur orchestra who play rousing ‘bebatelan’ during the procession.

DSCF6847Carrying the bull sarcophagus to the cremation grounds. These are the most dangerous moments during a big cremation, as it is difficult to maneuver precisely – both tourists and bearers alike have been badly injured in the past.

DSCF6966One of his great uncles and several retainers wait on the tower for the moment to bring the body down and place it in the sarcophagus.

DSCF6983Moving the giant bull sarcophagus into place.

DSCF6976The crowd of tourists and gawkers.

DSCF6993And one up a tree.

DSCF6987And then it’s time to bring the body down.

DSCF7074In the final moments the father remained inconsolable.

DSCF7125Preparing to light the fire.

DSCF7187And finally… May your onward journey be a good one Cokorda Putra Widura.