The Ubud Royal Cremation ceremony will be held on March 2nd, 2018 in Ubud. Preparation ceremony which takes approximately three months and involves about 20.000 people. This cremation ceremony is dedicated to the mother of the king of Ubud, Tjokorda Putra Sukawati.

Balinese cremation (ngaben) is justly famous for its monumental funerary art — the tall cremation tower (badé) that transports the corpse of the deceased to the burning grounds in the graveyard; and the splendid animal effigy (a velvet-clad bull in the case of high-caste cremations) in which the body is burned. But few tourists are aware of the complex and intimate rites that lead up to the burning, nor of those that will take place later to complete the mission to guide the soul of the deceased in heaven. Visitors to Ubud in recent days will have seen the cremation tower and black velvet bull outside Puri Ubud, the palace, at Ubud’s central crossroads. Inside the palace walls, and in community halls around Ubud, massive amounts of offerings are being prepared.

It is common in many villages to bury or burn the corpse before the full ngaben rites can be held, sometimes years later in a mass cremation. Priests are given ngaben as soon as possible. Some noble families, such as Puri Ubud, maintain the old royal practice of keeping the corpse preserved in the palace until the ngaben.

The aim of the ngaben rituals is to return the material remains of the deceased to the five elements of the universe (earth, air, water, fire, and ether) and to reunite the soul with the cosmos. For Balinese, this is a duty of the greatest importance for the bereaved family. The tremendous expense in time and materials to mount a ngaben is an expression of devotion — as well as an opportunity to display one’s ability to carry it off. In its lavish cremation rites, Puri Ubud is maintaining a tradition that dates from the ‘age of kings’.

Still, no matter how public the cremation, visitors should remember that at the heart of it all, someone has died — and no matter how lavish the ceremonies, friends and family are grieving in their uniquely Balinese way. The deceased in this cremation was a young man in his early thirties.