We were lucky enough to be in Ubud the week of the Royal Cremation ceremony. I picked up a brochure with the exact information from the Ubud Palace:
On Thursday, the 18th of August 2011, the Pelebon ceremony of Anak Agung Niang Rai of Puri Agung Ubud will be held. She is the wife of Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati (1910-1978), penglingsir (head of royal family) of Puri Agung Ubud since 1931 until 1978 and widely known as “the King of Ubud”.
Anak Agung Niang Rai was born in Bungbungan village, a village located in Klungkung regency of Bali around 1930. She married Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati of Puri Agung Ubud in January 1955. Anak Agung Niang Rai then lived in Puri Agung Ubud and always accompanied her husband in serving the community.
Tjokorda Agung was one of the most important figures in the history of Ubud. During his throne at Puri Agung Ubud, he pioneered the development of Ubud and it has made Ubud widely known as one of the art-cultural centers and a leading tourist area in Bali.
The Pelebon ceremony or also known as a Ngaben (cremation) ceremony is one of the most famous Hindu-Balinese traditional-religious ceremonies. This ceremony is a form of respect from the families and local communities to Anak Agung Niang Rai.
Besides being a religious ceremony, the Pelebon ceremony has also become one of the most famous tourist attractions in Bali.
In Balinese tradition, the Pelebon ceremony is a ceremony to purify and return the elements of Panca Maha Butha (five elements of the universe that form the life) in human body (Bhuana Alit, the micro-cosmos) to the universe (Bhuana Agung, the macro-cosmos).
The body began its procession around 1pm. It was taken by a Bade (a cremation tower) with nine stories and a height of 25 m., accompanied by a 7.5 meter-high Lembu (a giant sarcophagus bull) and other Pelebon ceremony paraphernalia into the cremation location at the Dalem Puri Temple in Peliatan which is about 900 meters to the east of Ubud.
The Pelebon ceremony is a Hindu-Balinese traditional-religious ceremony which has been upheld throughout the centuries. It is an incredible procession and we were deeply honored to be there and be a part of it all. We have never seen anything like this.
We tried to dress appropriately but were surprised by how many tourists disrespected the ceremony and showed up in tank tops and shorts. There were many places to purchase appropriate clothing for this type of event which is what we did. I’m not one to judge for the most part but damn. Have a bit of respect, cover your arms or something!
There were people practically hanging off rooftops anyplace they could catch a view of the procession going by.
We managed to get some video of the procession. Want to see more? Click HERE to see Part 2 of this incredible event.