The coffin (Lembu) containing the deceased/deceaseds at a (Balinese cremation ceremony (Ngaben)) -1986


  Ubud Cremation Tower

I have been about four times to Bali and caught glimpses of two cremation ceremonies. I managed to get a few 35mm slide photos. Some are shown here.

The day for the Ngaben to take place is always selected by a priest, and it will be based on the Balinese calendar. As part of the preparations the family will be expected to arrange for two important items that will be used in the ceremony:

  • * The waddhu/bade is a tower like construction that has multiple levels – the more levels the construction has, the important the person was in their life. It is usually made from bamboo, paper, and wood.
  • * The Lembu is coffin where the deceased’s body will stay for the ceremony. Lembu means ox, and the coffin is usually designed to look like this animal – it is also possible to have the coffin look like other animals.

As well as these two important items, the family will also be expected to pay for:

  • * Special offerings that will be given on behalf of the deceased.
  • * A Gamelan musical procession that will accompany the deceased to the cremation pyre.
  • * The family will usually sponsor a traditional puppet.
  • * Food and drink for guests

Those individuals who die and belong to the upper classes in Bali or royalty will usually have a Pelebon (Royal cremation) rather than a Ngaben cremation. This ceremony will be more even more elaborate than standard cremation ceremony, and it will involve a number of different stages. The cremation tower for the Pelebon needs to have nine floors, and it can require as many as 100 people to make it.

Reference: Balinese Cremation Ceremony (

Twirling a cremation tower to confuse the deceased

Miguel Covarrubias wrote: "Strange as it seems, it is in their cremation ceremonies that the Balinese have their greatest fun. A cremation is an occasion for gaiety and not for mourning, since it represents the accomplishment of their most sacred duty: the ceremonial burning of the corpses of the dead to liberate their souls so that they can thus attain the higher worlds and be free for reincarnation into better beings"

Coffin and body burnt after a fire has been lit by a priest
Pembakaran mayat - 1986

Cremation continues
Towards the finish of several cremations
Food for the feast after the cremation
A Balinese Gamelan Band
strip fire
The Eye of God