Ngaben or cremation ceremony is arguably the most documented Balinese ceremony among hundreds of Balinse religious ceremonies. And of course the prima ballerina of Balinese cremation is the cremation tower or well known as Bade or Wadah. Bade or wadah is a tower which is used to carry the body of the deceased to the cremation ground.
Bade or Wadah is a pagoda-like structure with multi-tiered roof, constructed by a group of special craftsmen known as sangging with specific material such as bamboo, paper mace and cotton. The size, proportion and the structure of the bade is strictly governed by the ancient rules of bade construction.
The height of the Bade could reach up to 25 meters and the weight around 10 ton. It is required a few hundreds of man to carry it. Bade shows the social status of the deceased in the community, it is shown by the number of the tier of the bade roofs. The number of the roof of the bade is always odd (3, 5, 9, and 11).
A commoner or sudra is forbidden to use bade in his cremation. The gentry usally use 3 up to 9-roof bade depend of his or her social status; higher social status means higher and more elaborate bade. The 11-roof bade is reserved specially for a king. The Bade represents the ancient Balinese cosmogony the Bedawang Nala (The world turtle) as its base, surrounded by the two dragons, Naga Basuki and Ananta boga as the symbol of safety and perpetual foods.
Above them on the backside of the Bade is a big, grotesque mask of Bhoma with its outstretched wings symbol of the lofty forest and mountains. At the very top is the receding size of the multi tiers of roof, symbol of the heaven. The turtle and the dragons live in the lower world named Bhur, and the above is the world of man called Bwah, symbolized with the Bhoma.
At the top is the world of heaven, Swah and it is symbolized by the tiers of roof at the Bade itself.