Pelebon, a cremation for the royals in Bali.
The difference between Pelebon and Ngaben is the social status of the late person.
Last Sunday I was lucky to experience the ceremony by myself.
In 2013, Saren Ubud Temple also held cremation ceremony for the Queen, this time the cremation held for the Prince who passed away last month.
Last month? Yes, he passed last month in his sickness, this is common in Bali and Tana Toraja (Part of Sulawesi). The body is balmed with formaline before held proper funeral.
Quiet different from common funeral all over the world which choose white or black, The royal can choose any color for pelebon ceremony. The color chose maybe because it was the favorite color of the late person or chose based on family discussion.
This ceremony has chosen purple as main color beside traditional white color for the bade and black for the bull sarcophagus.
This ceremony conducted by two priests; one siwa priest, one budha priest. The priests start the ceremony at 10 AM, 2 hours prayer was punctuated by bali traditional music.
The prince carried inside the coffin on the top of cremation tower called bade from the temple to the cremation site, about two kilometres with the help of hundreds of people from temple community.
I noticed the community has several team and each team carried the bade and the bull statue, marched about 250 metres then passed it to another team ahead and the second team carried it both and marched for another 250 metres before passed it to the third team. They did it until the bull sarcophagus and the bade reach the cremation site.
The hardest was when it reached the lowest point of the track, the team should have stopped a while to take a breath, made up their mark together and marched again.
The priests were started the second prayer when the coffin moved from the bade by the family of the prince.
The family carried the coffin around the bull sarcophagus three times before they put the coffin inside the bull sarcophagus.
Then the women of the family saying goodbye to the prince by light up incense stick, and the family member put the prince’s belonging such as shoes, phones, shirts… and because the prince’s birthday was 10 days prior the cremation, their family also put a bunch of flowers with a birthday card. I was read the card, it written “Happy Birthday Witra*. mom, dad, sister and grandma loves you”.
Then they burned the bull, the priest still prayed with low voice nearby until all became ashes.
Different from an hour earlier. I only hear the fire, snap of burned woods and some tiny explosion. Everyone became silent while witnessed the cremation of Tjokorda Putra Widura, The Prince.
Pelebon was about lead the late person to the next world before the soul reincarnate. It between sad and happy, sad because he’ll be missed, happy because he already with the gods.
In my eyes, Pelebon wasn’t only a spritual ceremony and not only about religion, but also about team work, dedicated work, togetherness, harmony and love.
It gained huge respect to witnessed how Balinese hold their culture, their ancestor wasn’t only bequeath beautiful culture, but also priceless value behind the culture.
*Witra = Tjokorda Putra Widura’s nick name