Bali. Bali held the sacred Ngaben cremation ceremony in Matahari Terbit Beach, Sanur, last Friday, as the Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia gradually gets under control, thus opening doors for large-scale events to take place under strict health protocols.
The Ngaben ceremony upheld the Covid-19 protocols at all times, with attendees keeping their masks on. Virus prevention facilities such as hand-washing and hand sanitizer stations were readily available. Only the vaccinated could enter the venue, and visitors must scan a QR code using the government's Covid-tracing app Peduli Lindungi at the entrance.
The ceremony's exemplary, strict compliance with the Covid-19 protocols earned praise from the government.
"Hats off to the Balinese people who have proven to us that new habits adaptation can be implemented in large traditional ceremonies such as Ngaben [of] a prominent figure like Ida Pedanda Nabe Gede Dwija Ngenjung," Reisa Broto Asmoro, the government's Covid-19 spokeswoman and the ambassador for new habits adaptation, said in a statement over the weekend.
The improving pandemic situation and the impetus to adapt to new habits and live alongside Covid-19 have prompted the government to adjust the restrictions gradually. And this includes religious and cultural gatherings usually attended by many.
"The data monitoring on Bali's compliance with the health procedures, which always reaches above 90 percent, has enabled an improved Covid-19 pandemic handling, a drop in the PPKM [community-level restriction] level, and the allowing of large ceremonies such as Ngaben or Pelebon," Reisa said.
Ngaben is not only a cultural heritage or a religious ritual, but it has also become a tourism icon.
As the Covid-19 situation gets better, Bali will reopen direct flights from Japan, South Korea, China, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates on October 14, 2021, according to Reisa.
"New habits adaptation can be translated to mask-wearing, temperature-checking, the availability of hand-washing stations, the use of the PeduliLindungi app," Ni Wayan Eka Cipta Sari, Balinese Covid-19 health protocols promoter, said.
"As well as slashing the number of guests and committee capacity to 75 percent, holding rapid antigen tests for the hundreds of committee members involved, assigning the Denpasar Task Force stationed at each cremation process spots [Ngaben], placing banners and billboards campaigning protocol compliance, as well as having MCs who always reminded the Plebon participants to adhere to the protocols," Ni Wayan Eka Cipta Sari added.
Bali's vaccination rate is among the highest in the country. According to the government's vaccination database, as of October 9, Bali has administered the first vaccine dose to more than 98 percent of its targeted population.
The high health protocol compliance, the public's awareness to adapt to new habits, and the excellent vaccination coverage portray how Bali is ready to get back on its feet.
"Bali Bangkit" ('Bali Rise') means that Bali, as it embraces the new normal, seeks to show the world that Bali is clean, clean, healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly. And hopefully, this spirit can motivate all Indonesians to remain active while being cautious of the coronavirus that lives alongside us.