No matter where you go in Bali, I believe you notice the presence of woven trays filled with shredded leaves, colourful flowers, a pinch of rice and some man-made delicacies, such as a Mentos candy and mini Ritz biscuits, or even a cigarette stick and coins.
The artistic home decoration look-alike demonstrates the simplest and the most staple way of Balinese Hindu people to thank God, or Sang Hyang Widhi, by creating a daily offering called canang sari. The word canang sari derives from ca means beautiful, nang means aim, and sari means essence. In other words, an offering should be created aesthetically with full of sincerity and attention to details.
I am particularly interested in chronological aspects of canang sari, from weaving the trays, placing the offering until what happens next after being abandoned in public. Its contents and locations presented indicate the recent adaptation of an ancient faith practice.
After several visits, I finally succeeded gathering series of canang sari images in several places all over the island.
Square trays symbolize the power of moon, made of woven young coconut leaf called janur. Due to the extremely wide use of coconut leaf in the offerings, Bali needs more supply from Java island to keep the tradition alive. Some local women are dedicated to create the trays. Unless you have time for this, fear not. There are suppliers providing ready-made ones, whose clients include major hotels and resorts.
Daily Dose, Ubud
Although it’s called a daily offering, you may hear different opinions about how often it is presented. An official from Pertiwi Resort, with whom I spoke, said that placing an offering once a day is enough. However, some intense devotees place it three times a day, while on the other hand some non-intense ones only do it once to three times a week. Is it a matter of a different interpretation of the word “daily”?
Say It with a Prayer, Ubud
The main contents of the tray are pink, yellow, red, purple, blue flowers, shredded pandan leaves, coins and some home cooking food purposely set aside for the offering. Pink flower is heading to the east, blue or purple to the north, yellow to the west, and red to the south.
Unless you have time for this? Make time! Filling the tray themselves is a symbol of sacrifice. No catering service to replace the activity, unfortunately!
Bless Our Home, Tenganan Village
Balinese Hindu people place the offerings in temples, shrines, in front of the entrance door, stairs, on top of store merchandise, cash desk and everywhere else where they need protection, safety, prosperity and blessings.
Have A Smoke, Legian
“What’s the cigarette for? Is it part of the offering?” I asked.
The lady from a store in Legian replied, “Well, most of the spirits here are old people who like smoking. So yeah, we give them cigarettes.”
Safe Ride, Ubud
For More Fortune and Prosperity, Tegallalang Village
Tegallalang Village is famous for the rice terrace field blessed with splendid beauty and fertility, attracting millions of tourists every year. Local government reinforces business owners to cover metal-roofed restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops with hay to retain traditional atmosphere. Nonetheless, the hay seem to have a bit too short supply to obey the rule….
To Bless a Man at Work, Tenganan Village
“Which one do you praise?”, A Restaurant across Krisna Souvenir Shop
I’m not sure what’s going on with this one. Is the owner a Buddhist doing a Hindu ritual?
Starbucks Goes Traditional, Ngurah Rai Airport
“It is a matter of time for KFC’s fried chicken, McDonald’s burger, and Coca-Cola to be part of the offering to Gods.”(Kompas, April 28, 2013)
Sounds so true to me. Starbucks presents a cup of espresso and a piece of espresso brownie to replace rice. It doesn’t serve rice anyway, does it?
Rice Colouring, Menega Seafood Restaurant, Jimbaran
Besides canang sari, there are colourful rice offerings called segehan, as a symbol of strength and unity. White rice to the east, red rice to the south, yellow to the west, and black rice to the north. Only natural food colouring is allowed, while artificial colouring signifies deception.
AFTER A WHILE….
Scattered, Sanur Beach
No one can guarantee that the offerings remain intact after being left unattended. Kicking or stepping on the trays is a sign of disrespect. However, I admit that it’s pretty hard to remind them not to do so as they are often in the middle of pedestrian areas. Offering destruction is acceptable when natural causes occur, such as wind, animal occupations, and many more.
Great Spot for Nesting, Segarra Resort, Sanur
Yummy, Tenganan Village
The Treat, Tenganan Village
Would End Up This Way Eventually, Tegallalang Village
I hope Bali will remain home for the Gods and their worshipers will never stop praising their Gods, regardless modern exposure from floods of tourists and investors from time to time. But some say modernity and foreign influence actually unite Balinese people to maintain their rituals to lure their visitors worldwide.
I certainly hope so…..