Article

Preventive Care for the Dead: Music, Community, and the Protection of Souls in Balinese Cremation Ceremonies

Michael B. Bakan

in The Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756261
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199756261.013.0011
 Preventive Care for the Dead: Music, Community, and the Protection of Souls in Balinese Cremation Ceremonies

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This article approaches cremation rituals that are performed by communities on the island of Bali, Indonesia. It posits that certain elements of the traditional Hindu-Balinese cremation ritual known as ngaben may be seen to represent a form of holistic, community-based, preventive medical care for the atma, or soul, of the deceased individual who is cremated. Music figures prominently in this practical course of action undertaken by the community on behalf of the departing atma during a ngaben. One type of music in particular has an especially crucial role, indeed, several roles. This music is played on a traditional set of Balinese instruments called the gamelan beleganjur. This article examines the multiple functional uses of beleganjur music performance in the preventive care of the atma in a Balinese ngaben. It aims to inspire thought, dialogue, and further research on broader issues in the theory and practice of music, medicine, and culture in cross-cultural perspectives.

Keywords: cremation rituals; Hindu-Balinese cremation; ngaben; atma; gamelan beleganjur

Article.  7669 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Ethnomusicology

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