Weekend Away in Bali: Daily Offerings to the Gods

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Preparing elaborate offerings to be presented to the Gods is an integral part of daily life in Bali. Unlike the majority of Indonesia which follows the Muslim religion, Bali is a largely Hindu country. These offerings, called canang sari, bring protection and prosperity, appease the Gods and ward off negative influences. Much time and effort is put into their preparation; they must be attractive and well-thought out as they are for higher beings and each element has a deep symbolic significance.

In many ways, the production of the offerings, which is mainly carried out by the women of each household, may be regarded as an important traditional art form. Elegant palm-leaf baskets are arranged with brilliantly colourful flowers; typically hydrangeas, plumeria, marigold and ylang-ylang, which represent the chakra (energy points), food, such as meat, nuts, fruit, cakes and rice and burning incense. A betelnut, which is a stimulant, is often placed in the core of the basket. The leaves used to construct the baskets are laboriously hand-cut, plaited and pinned together.

Good spirits are believed to reside in the mountains, whereas demons and omens occupy the seas. Rice is often moulded into a cone shape to represent the mountains for the offerings.

Simple offerings are presented daily, while more elaborate ones are produced for specific rituals. Offerings are places at family temples, main temples, before statues, at the entrance to homes and shops and at corners of intersections to ward off accidents. All offerings are allowed to naturally deteriorate in the elements.

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