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Tourists Can Observe Once In A Lifetime Royal Ceremony In Bali This Weekend

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On Sunday 14th, April, the roads of the popular resort of Ubud will be closed to honor the royal cremation at Puri Agung Ubud.

For many Balinese people living in Ubud, this will be the first royal cremation of its kind in their lifetime, and tourists are welcome to observe part of the ceremony. 

Ngaben Pelebon Ceremony Cremation Bali.jpg

Bali’s Ubud is known as the arts and cultural capital.

Every year, millions of tourists head to Ubud to see the ancient architecture for themselves and get a feel for what Balinese culture really represents. 

Tourists visiting Ubud for the last few weeks may have seen some of the incredible structures for the ceremony being made by community members who have worked tirelessly to prepare everything for the big day. 

We spoke to Ubud Story Walks to find out more about this exceptional royal cremation, known as ngaben in Balinese, and the events that will be taking place.

Tour guides Khana and Windari explain, “The upcoming cremation at Puri Agung Ubud on Sunday, April 14 is not an ordinary ngaben but a grander ceremony known as pelebon, typically intended for higher castes such as royal families and priests.”

They add, “This pelebon is being held to honor the late Tjokorda Bagus Santaka from Puri Saren Kauh, and an Aunt, Anak Agung Istri Putra, who is also from Puri Saren Kauh Ubud but married into the neighboring Puri Muwa.”

Although every village and community in Bali has slightly different traditions when it comes to ngaben and pelebon ceremonies, there are always the same core elements.

One such element is the cremation tower, known as the bade, and the wooden sarcophagus. The bade prepared for this pelebon is utterly mesmerizing in size and scope and has been built and adorned by hand. 

Khana and Windari added “Given the royal nature of the event, the cremation tower and the wooden sarcophagus in the shape of a bull, lembu, will be notably larger, with the bade standing at 25 meters tall and boasting nine tiers known as tumpang.”

Those in Ubud may have already seen the lembu, which has been revealed to be purple in color and was temporarily on display outside Ubud Market.

This striking royal purple is an unusual choice of colour for the sarcophagus, which are usually black or occasionally white with elements of gold and red. The purple lembu was presented by Cok Wah, the stepbrother of the late Tjokorda Bagus Santaka.

It is believed that Santaka himself requested the purple. In Balinese, the color purple is ‘tangi’, which can represent rising or waking up. 

For many tourists in Ubud this weekend, the royal pelebon will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe Balinese culture in its full and most reverent form.

Observers are encouraged to come out and watch the parade and be mindful that this royal cremation is both reverent and solemn. It is permissible to take photos with consideration to the context of the event and not to interfere with any of the proceedings.

Naturally, Puri Agung Ubud will be closed to the public. Tourists are reminded to listen and honor the instructions given by local pecalang, who are in place to ensure the whole event runs smoothly. 

The Ubud Story Walks team and all businesses in Ubud are anticipating thousands of people coming out to observe the ceremonial procession that will parade down Jalan Raya Ubud starting at around 11am.

However, pelebon-related activities will be increasing throughout Friday and Saturday and from the early hours on Sunday morning. 

In light of the complete closure of Jalan Raya Ubud (from the Penestanan Hill turn through to the Jalan Cok Gede Rai and Jalan Raya Adong junction), traffic is expected to mount up around the outskirts of Ubud.

For those who wish to observe the parade and are staying in central Ubud or within walking distance, it is advisable to head into town on foot.

While the ceremony is set to start around 11 am, the whole event will go on for the majority of the day. Tourists should anticipate that road closures will be in place from the early morning until late afternoon, possibly into the evening. 

Ubud Story Walks launched in 2022 after the team noticed that the cultural heritage of Ubud was being severely underserved in the tourism space.

The team conducts walking tours through Ubud’s most important historical and cultural landmarks, sharing stories that are important to Balinese people and leave tourists spellbound.

All guides from Ubud Story Walks are local Balinese folks, certified by the Indonesian tour guide association (Himpunan Pramuwisata Indonesia). Walking tours can be booked via the Ubud Story Walks website

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Monday 15th of April 2024

Absolutely sick and barbaric. These people will make money out of anything at all. It isn't the first one... Bah blah blah.

Wayan Bo

Saturday 13th of April 2024



Saturday 13th of April 2024

Ubud had a ceremony just afew years ago for a princess. So this next one would not be the 1st that the people of Ubud have experienced in a lifetime. Am i right?