Even Hindu funerals in Bali are intensely suggestive ceremonies of great cultural and religious significance. Requiring a complex apparatus and characterized by a large following, funerals are centered on cremation of the body, known as ngaben or pelebon.
This practice is considered essentig if the 5 elements making up the microcosm of the human body are to be returned to their original residence, the universe’s macrocosm.
The five elements, Panca Maha Bhuta, are the earth (pertivvi), water (apah), fire (teja), air (bayu), and ether (akasa). Since the primordial dimension can only be attained through water and fire, the ashes are dispersed in the waters of the sea or if the distance is too great, in a river.
The funeral ceremony is generally led by a priest and punctuated by a lavish offering of gifts. For the occasion, a large bullock-shaped wooden structure is built and then entirely covered with white drapes if the deceased belongs to a priestly caste; in black, if not.