A ‘Nabe’s’ simple farewell
A palebon (cremation) ritual on Thursday morning reminded Balinese Hindus that their religion is not all about grand ceremony and social prestige.
The palebon did not involve an imposing, dozens of meters tall bade (cremation tower), nor elaborate offerings that cost hundreds of millions of rupiah to construct. Over the last few years, it has become a common phenomenon here for the rich to spend billions of rupiah to finance a cremation.
The man who was cremated in this simple ritual was not an ordinary man. He was a former soldier who became a high priest and eventually achieved the venerated title of Nabe, bestowed on those whose disciples have been ordained as high priests.
Ida Pandita Mpu Nabe Jaya Rekananda passed away on April 13 in a hospital in Jakarta. In the custom fit for a high priest, his body was placed in his family’s compound in Kayumas Klod, Denpasar, waiting for an auspicious day.
The cremation was held in Tegal Suci, at a plot of cleared land near the Hindu Santha Yana crematorium. The cremation of a high priest is never carried out in a cemetery. A high priest has led a holy life, thus, he will also be cremated in sanctified ground, such as in a rice field or cleared land.
A military procession started the cremation ritual, which was attended by hundreds of Hindu devotees, all dressed in white, the color of liberation and not of mourning. Rekananda’s disciples, all are either temple priests or high priests, carried his body and placed it in a white buffalo sarcophagus. The sounds of ceremonial bells in their hands filled the air as blazing fire consumed the wooden sarcophagus.
“This procession is actually still too luxurious. He warned us repeatedly when he was still alive to make a simple procession for his palebon. But we couldn’t refuse the wishes of so many people who wanted to contribute something to the ceremony,” Rekananda disciple high priest, Ida Pandita Mpu Premananda, said.
To simplify the ritual, the disciples decided not to use the bebangkit offering, which is mainly made of 18 suckling pigs.
Tegal Suci is a facility built and operated by Mahagotra Pasek Sanak Sapta Rsi (MGPSSR), the largest clan-based organization in Bali. “Ida Pandita Mpu Nabe Rekananda is a high priest who gave a real example of how to make the ceremony very simple. No need for much money. The simpler it is, the better,” MGPSSR executive Gde Pitana said.
“We have to follow his example. I want to be cremated in this simple way,” high priest Ida Pandita Mpu Jaya Danka Ramana Putra said.
— Photos By Agung Parameswara