January 3, 2015

1393 INDONESIA (Lesser Sunda) - Naga Banda in Ngaben Ceremony

Ngaben, or Cremation Ceremony, is a Hindu funeral ritual performed in Bali to send the deceased to the next life. The body of the deceased is placed as if sleeping, and the family continues to treat him as sleeping. No tears are shed, because the deceased is only temporarily absent and will reincarnate or find final rest in  Moksha. To find out the proper day of the ceremony, is consulted a specialist. In this day, the body is placed inside a coffin, placed in its turn inside a sarcophagus resembling a buffalo (Lembu) or in a temple structure (Wadah), made of papier-maché and wood. The sarcophagus is then borne to the cremation site in a procession, which is almost never walked in a straight line, to confuse the evil spirits.

The climax of a Ngaben is the burning of the sarcophagus containing the body, to free the spirit and enable reincarnation. Ngaben is not always immediately performed. For members of the elite castes, it is normal to perform the ritual individually for the deceased within three days. People of lower social classes opt for a more economic solution, where they first bury the deceased, who is then cremated with the village's other dead in a mass ceremony. The ashes of the deceased body are then discharged into the sea or river. During the royal cremation (Pelebon ceremony), apart from Bade (cremation tower) and Lembu (giant bull, cremation sarcophagus), is used also a Naga Banda (a mythical dragon-like creature with a long tail).

The length of Naga Banda is around 2,5km, so they make only the head and the tail as elaborate as it could, but the middle part of its body it is created in a simple rope, rolled up. It is a symbol of the links of man’s earthly physical needs, and it helps the soul to find his way to the next world. Prior to the purification ceremony of the body, the dragon is placed by the side of the body. The head is oriented to the south west (the source of material) and the tail to the north east (the source of immaterial). The Naga Banda, Kajang (a piece of white cloth with a magical drawing, showing the clan of the person) and Bade are being purified by the priest on the day prior to the cremation. On the day of the cremation, once again the priest, using his holy chant or mantra, arrows the dragon with a flower tip bow arrow. This symbolize that the mind of the priest accompanies the soul of the deceased to the next world.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a series of two depicting Wayang, and issued at Jakarta on June 22, 2012 at World Stamp Championship. The second stamp, depicting Ani Yudhoyono, is part of a series of Indonesian First Ladies issued on 2014. 

Ngaben - Wikipedia
Naga Banda: Green Dragon - Wayan Sueta's blog
Ngaben Ceremony - Iffocus

Sender: Nurul Hidayati (direct swap)
Sent from Sleman (Java / Indonesia), on 10.09.2014

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