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Cremation Sacramento Video Description
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Сremation of Anak Agung Niang Rai turned into a display of Ubud’s solidarity and loyalty to its royal family.
Thousands of residents filled the street to take turns carrying the 24-meter-tall bade (cremation tower) from the palace to the royal cemetery at Dalem Puri.
“People came from the 12 desa pekraman [customary villages] in Ubud as well as from the neighboring villages of Kedewatan, Payogan and Bunutan,” Niang Rai’s son Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati, the prince of Ubud and regent of Gianyar, said.
The people of Ubud had gathered around the royal palace in downtown Ubud since early morning. The women helped prepare elaborate offerings while the men checked the massive bamboo bridge connecting the palace yard and the top of the bade.
Invited guests and thousands of spectators, including foreign tourists, began filling the streets of Ubud, creating severe traffic jams stretching to Kedewatan and Nyuh Kuning.
The elaborately decorated bade and the 9.5-meter-tall lembu (wooden sarcophagus in the form of a bull) drew most of the spectators. The bade’s nine tiers signified Niang Rai’s social status. Only kings and queens receive an 11-tiered bade.
It took 45 days for the people of Ubud to construct the bade and lembu. The ceremony itself took three months to prepare, during which time people took turns participating in communal works to create offerings, clean up the palace, construct ritual paraphernalia and attend to bereaved royalty.
Niang Rai died May 14 after being hospitalized for two months at Sanglah Central Hospital at the age of 78. She is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.
The highlight of the cremation services took place at 2 p.m.
“We began the ritual after noon because it is a ritual of death and the journey of the sun to the west, into sunset, signifies the journey of death,” Ardhana Sukawati said.
The body was placed on the top of the bade and the bearers broke into groups of 250 and 200 people each. The first group carried the 10-ton bade while the second carried the 6-ton lembu. Other mourners lined the 500-meter route to the royal cemetery.
Following the recitation of a mantra by high priest Ida Pedanda Gde Ngenjung of Duda, Karangasem, the procession moved on. Traditional percussion ensembles of bleganjur played a repertoire to boost the bearers’ spirits while an angklung ensemble sought to guide the soul of the deceased.
On the top of the bade sat Tjokorda Bagus Santaka, Niang Rai’s grandson, holding an effigy of Manuk Dewata, the bird of paradise Balinese Hindus believe would lead the soul into the realm of the divine. Another grandson, Tjokorda Agung Iciro Sukawati, rode on the lembu.
At the cemetery, the body was moved from the bade into the lembu. The royal family waited until darkness before lighting the fire that would consume the lembu.