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Taman, Bali, Indonesia
I am just a 38 years old fellow from a small village named Taman, on the island of Bali. There is nothing that is too special about me. I am not a person with degree but I always love to have opportunity to learn new things in my life. I am working just as a driver and tour guide for Bali and I have been happy doing it for more than 16 years now and it might be the only things that I can do for the rest of my life.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Naga Banda : Green Dragon

It is another unique cremation appliance which is rarely used in a cremation ceremony as it has a very special meaning and position. The length of Naga Banda according to its rule is around 2,5 kilometers ( 1,600 Depa in Balinese), what a huge size? Because if we make it according to its real size, it is going to be so huge and also cost a lot of money for the construction, 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 and being rolled up but still fulfilling well-balanced and compatible esthetic.

The Naga Banda is only used in a very special cremation for a certain family. It is only a certain high priest and the royal crowned person or someone who was specially awarded by the King of Gelgel are deserved to use it in their cremation. It is a symbol of binds or ties of man’s earthly physical needs. On the day of the cremation the binds are being released by a priest using a very specific mantra. The dragon will be guidance for the soul to find his way to the next world.

The appearance story of Naga Banda.

There is an interesting story on how the Naga Banda appears at first. Once, the king had been waiting for the visit of a Hindu-Buddhist priest and he wanted to test the spiritual ability of the priest. The priest was considered to have Dura Darsana means a spiritual ability to see something that can’t be seen with naked eyes. The king got an idea by telling his servants to dig a hole in the ground about 2 meters of depth in his family temple ground. A goose was placed inside the hole and the geese make a sound, it was echoing and indeed sounds different.

Shortly, the priest that had been waited by the king arrived at the palace, was asked about the sounds that was echoing around the palace. After a short gazing, then the priest answered with a great honor, “of course my lord, it is a sound of a great dragon”. The king was laughing out loud and convinced that the priest is not having any spiritual ability as what people said. The king told the priest that it was only a sound of a goose that he was placed in the hole. The priest stairs at the king with a very sharp eyes, and said,” it is a great dragon of 2,5 kilometers of length and he comes to this world because of your behaviors. He is coming down to pick me up as I have to go to the heaven this day. “Let’s have a look together then, my lord”, said the priest.

The king with his own truth accompanied the priest to his temple ground. The cover of the hole was opened and what a surprise…., a huge dragon with its roaring looming out from the hole. The dragon with full of respect came to the priest and asked him to get on his back for the journey to the heaven, but when he was as high as a coconut tree, suddenly the king was begging the priest to be allowed to come along with him. The priest was giving the permit for the king and he got up on the tail of the dragon and then both of the priest and the king go to a different world together riding the dragon.

Since that time, in every cremation of a Balinese Hindu-Buddhist priest and the king, Naga Banda is being used. The dragon is also represents the relation and the binds of the king and the priest. Naga Banda could have many different value and meanings as the Balinese culture is a multi-interpretations.

How to use the dragon?

Prior to the purification ceremony for the body, the dragon is placed by the side of the body. The head must be heading to south west and the tail heads to north east direction. The north east is the source of immaterial, and the south west is the source of material. The Naga Banda, Kajang ( a peace of white cloth with a magical drawing that showing the clan of the person)and Cremation tower are being purified by the priest on the day prior to the actual cremation.

On the day of the cremation during the procession to the cemetery ground, once again the priest using his holy chant or mantra arrows the dragon with a flower tip bow arrow. It symbolize that the mind of the priest whose conducting the ceremony accompanying the soul of the deceased to the next world.