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date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

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

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