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Home » Miscellaneous

On Death  

by on Friday, 10 November 2006No Comment | 845 views

Many non-Balinese people have seen the Ngaben (Balinese traditional cremation ceremony), some people take for it for granted, “oh, Ngaben good”, but some people asked various question in relation with this ceremony. One question that I find it interesting runs as follows “Ngaben is a cremation ceremony; someone is death, why it is merrily and lavishly celebrated? It will put another burden to the family of the deceased”. A question with supporting sentence like this is always hard answer, but not impossible to answer.

Death to Balinese is not end of the story, but rather a new beginning to the next stage of life, true stage of life. The word “death” is equivalent with “mati” in Balinese language, but Balinese seldom use this word, they usually used the word “majalan” which means “taking a journey” or “sing enu” which means “ceased to exist”, or “ngalahin” which means “has left”, the older generation used a bit longer expression but with a more precise meaning to Balinese point of view toward death. They called death as “magingsir ke tanah wayah” which means “back to the old land”. For Balinese this world is considered as new land, we can not live forever in this new land someday we will be back to our home, the old land and death is our journey back home.

Why it is merrily and lavishly celebrated? Death is a chance, a chance to a journey back home for the deceased and for the family it is a chance to pay their debt to the deceased. Every Balinese when they are born inherit three debts, first is a debt to God, second is a debt to parent and ancestor, and the last is debt to the priest. Ngaben ceremony is a chance to pay our debt to the parents. It is not a burden, it is an obligation, and it is an honor to give a good cremation ceremony to the deceased family’s member.

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