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Home » Ubud » The Resplendent Cremation Ceremonies of the Courts of Ubud and Peliatan

The Resplendent Cremation Ceremonies of the Courts of Ubud and Peliatan

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Overview

In Bali, the royal courts of Ubud and Peliatan, located near Ubud, are known for their elaborate and most  impressive cremation ceremonies. One of the most impressive was the 1992 cremation of the wife, the mother and stepmothers of Anak Agung Gede Agung, an Indonesian diplomat and of the royal house of Gianyar. 

On 2 November 2010, a Royal Cremation Ceremony for the IXth Raja of Peliatan, Ida Dwagung Peliatan, who passed away on 20 August at the age of 71 is taking place.  

Weeks before the day of cremation, relatives and an entire community of artists have gathered to build a huge platform and an astounding 11 tier and 25.5 meter high cremation tower built on the platform , constructed of bamboo, wood and paper. These will be carried on the shoulders of hundreds of men to the cremation grounds. Also beautifully crafted are the royal bull sarcophagus in which the remains of the deceased Raja will be placed, and a resplendent 3 meter dragon with gold leaf scales, which is believed to be the transport of the soul to the hereafter.  All these will be set aflame at the cremation.

The Balinese believe that only through the purification of fire, can the soul can be released from this earth on its passage to heaven. 

On the day of cremation, the body is first laid in the tower. A long white cloth attached to the tower, is held by family members representing their ties to the deceased. Then hundreds of men together carry the huge platform ad tower on their shoulder, moving, turning and stopping in tandem. The huge  platform is rotated at each crossroads with the purpose to disorient the soul and to prevent it from returning and disturbing the living.  

At the cremation ground the body is taken down from the tower and placed inside the sarcophagus with prayers, then sprinkled with holy water and the sarcophagus is then closed. Offerings are placed below to start the fire and the sarcophagus and corpse are consumed by the flames. The tower is then also burnt separately. 

By participating in the preparations and rituals, relatives fulfill their religious duties toward the deceased. There is no public display of grief, since weeping near the corpse will disturb the soul from making its way to the hereafter. 

Formed in the 17th century, the Court of Peliatan is a senior branch of the palace of Ubud. Peliatan is famous for its beautiful Legong Kraton dance, a dance of two maidens in resplendent costume, which first mesmerized Europeans when it was performed at the Paris Exhibition in 1931. Peliatan is also well known for its beautifully haunting gamelan music.

To see more pictures on the resplendent cremation of the 9th Raja of Puri Agung Peliatan Bali click http://www.indonesia.travel/en/photoessay/details/post/3

(Sources: Periplus Guide to Bali ; and Indonesian Heritage Books: Religion and Ritual)

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