What does Ngiring mean?

For those of you who have gone beyond Indonesian and are attempting to learn Balinese, you would have certainly heard this word a lot.

Ngiring is one of the most interesting Balinese words because it is not only versatile but it explains so much about Balinese culture in the way it is used. For those of you who don’t have the ‘ng’ sound in your native language, it can be an effort in itself just to pronounce it, let alone understand all the different contexts when you can apply it.

Ngiring is classified as a refined/polite word so it is part of the sor singgih vocabularly. You’ll hear the word often when somebody is leaving, to mean ‘excuse me’, as in “Ngiring, pamit dumun” (Excuse me, I’m leaving now). It also means ‘please’ as in ‘go ahead’, when you have prepared food or drink for someone and you encourage them to consume it. In this context, you can also refer to yourself helping yourself to something. Here you just use the word on its own: “Ngiring.”

Ngiring also means to accompany, and is most often used in a religious context. For example, if you accompany a high priest or a sacred object (such as a ceremonial barong, known as a susuhunan), you can say, “Buin mani rage lakar ngiring Ida Susuhunan ke segara.” (Tomorrow I’m going to accompany our sacred effigy to the beach).

Perhaps the most fascinating culturally speaking in terms of usage is when talking about death rites (pitra yadnya). After a person has been cremated, there is a further ceremony that purifies the spirit and to reinstate it in the family temple compound. As with a cremation ceremony, this large ceremony is costly and many families cannot afford it. There is, however, a more economical option when someone of caste dies. This person’s family can offer to their community for family members as well as others, including those not of caste to have the rituals held together at one ceremony and at one location. This is also called ngiring: to accompany the nyekah ritual of a deceased of caste.

Ngiring may be a tricky one to pronounce but for sure it’s a useful one to know when talking with Balinese.

Copyright  Kulture Kid 2017

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