Incense scents wafts up to lead the eye to small banana leave baskets topped with blooming flowers. One of the first things you notice as soon as you step out on to a Balinese street are the beautiful little packages on the ground. Soon you will find out that these canang sari or offerings are an integral part of everyday life on Bali. The word canang sari is derived from canang which is the small woven basket and sari meaning essence. Some canang sari can be seen with kepeng, small amounts of money on top, said to make the essence of the offer.
Women spend couple of hours per day weaving small packages made from mostly banana or palm leaves. Within the baskets are usually a mixture of flowers, all symbolizing various gods, and components like betel nut, lime, and tobacco. We even saw some offerings with a small cup of coffee set next to it. We loved to sit back and watch the art of offerings making, be it in a family home compound or on the side of the street.
Every day we would see women walk around their beautiful gardens and pick the flowers needed for their offerings. Many homes would have the frangipani tree as the flower is one of the main flowers used in the offerings. A long stick with a small basket attached would be used to fish for these flowers. The fragrance of the frangipani is wonderful. On top of the fresh flower fragrances, the Balinese would also drizzle the offerings with droplets of flower perfumes by dipping a flower in perfume and swirling it around the offering and around the area, such a beautiful gesture.
Tirta Empul Ubud
Tirta Empul Ubud
Multi-leveled offerings at Tirta Empul Ubud
To appease the Hindu gods, to thank them for all the good things in their lives and to ward off evil spirits, the Balinese would place these offerings several times per day. In the beginning, we were careful not to trample on these beautiful creations, but soon learned that as soon as the gods have enjoyed the offerings (some say after the incense have burned out) it just becomes a shell so it was alright to walk on or over them. Luckily this is the case as we have seen many very busy intersections with offerings placed right in the middle of crazy car and motorbike crossings.
On our visit to Bali, we have stumbled upon various offerings ranging from little simple trays to elaborate multi leveled constructions. What you can see with all of the offerings was that they were always made with love and devotion to the gods.
Beachside beauty in Seminyak
Ubud Canang Saris
Munduk devotion complete with Bali Kopi
Hidden on the mountain side in Munduk
Roadside beauty in Munduk
Canang sari versus volcanic sand in Amed
Spirituality and beauty intertwine in Bali and we loved the larger offerings made at rice fields to appease the goddess of the rice fields – Dewi Sri. Or the decoration at temples and shrines which can just be a small flower tucked behind the ear or an elaborate flower arrangement. On a day strolling on the beach, we bumped into a ceremony which had all types of offerings. Bali really is the island of the gods.
An offering in the rice fields for Dewi Sri
An offering can be as simple as single flowers
Or as elaborate as this stunning flower arrangment