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Thousands to attend cremation
July 13th, 2008

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Ubud

Tens of thousands of locals and tourists are expected to flock to the tiny resort village of Ubud, Bali, on Tuesday to witness the Palebon (cremation ceremony) of three members of the Ubud royal family.

Among the royals to be cremated is Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, who formerly headed the Ubud royal family and was Bendesa (chief) of Desa Pekraman (a traditional customary village) for more than three decades.

A stoic aristocrat, Suyasa was also one of the most influential figures behind the revival of Balinese Hinduism in several parts of the country. He donated generous contributions to several major Hindu temples in Java, including the majestic Mandhara Giri Semeru Agung temple in East Java, and others in Kalimantan and Lombok.

Suyasa passed away last March after suffering from a prolonged illness. His body has since been preserved in one of the Ubud royal palace’s pavilions.

After his death, thousands paid their respects to the man formerly known to the people of Ubud as Tjokorda Lingsir (The Elder Tjokorda), a title reserved for the ruling member of the Ksatriya family.

“We estimate that more people will come to Ubud to pay homage to him on the day of the cremation,” Suyasa’s younger brother and current guardian of the royal family, Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa, said in a press conference Saturday.

All main access ways to Ubud will be closed off Tuesday to ensure the smooth progression of the ceremony, which will feature a gigantic 28-meter-tall Bade (a tower with a multi-tier roof).

“We will divert some routes leading to Ubud from July 13 to July 14 to prevent disruption to the series of preparatory rituals,” he said.

“On July 15, all roads around the palace and the cemetery will be closed, too.”

He said the Ubud community had prepared a parking area on the city’s central main soccer field to accommodate visitors. Visitors are advised to leave their vehicles at the parking area and walk the remaining 300 meters to the palace.

“Considering the huge number of people expected to witness the ceremony, we ask all people to cooperate in safeguarding the event,” he said.

Kerthyasa said the Bade, which will house Tjokorda Suyasa’s body, was 28-meters-tall and weighed eleven tons. It will be carried to the cemetery from the palace on the shoulders of more than 250 men.

“Due to the overwhelming weight of the Bade we will substitute the men with a fresh group of men every time the Bade moves 150 meters or so. It will also provide people from different villages the opportunity to participate in the cremation ceremony of their former leader,” he added.

In total, an estimated 8,000 people will participate in carrying various ritual paraphernalia from the palace to the Dalem Puri cemetery, which lies two kilometers to the east of Ubud.

“More than 67 Desa Pekraman from all over Bali have actively taken part in assisting the royal family’s preparation of the grand ceremony,” he said.

The royal family of Ubud is one of the most powerful and influential royal families in contemporary Bali.

The family’s generosity in assisting traditional communities across the island on religious and cultural matters and the humble demeanors of its key figures have created a sphere of influence that goes beyond the traditional geographical boundaries of Ubud, the tiny village known as the cultural heart of Bali.

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