Balinese daily offerings
Everywhere in Bali you will see little colourful offerings, they are on the street, in front of house temples and of course in all the temples. These daily offerings are made to thank the supreme god of Indonesian Hinduism for peace on the world. The offerings are placed with a prayer. It’s the most simple daily house offering, you will see the Balinese Hindu’s do this every morning wearing a sarong and a flower behind their ear carrying a tray with the offerings. The smell of incense fills the streets at offering time. These offerings are called “canang sari”, canang meaning the small woven square basket and sari meaning “essence”.
Every single item in the offering has a meaning. The material it’s made of and each of the flowers represent a god in Hinduism. Also the direction in which the flowers are placed have a meaning.
The base of the offering is a square woven tray made from coconut leaf, betel nut and lime which represent three Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Together they form Tri Murti, the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism. They personify the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance and destruction.
North – Vishnu the preserver is symbolized by blue or green coloured flowers.
East – Shiva or Mahadeva is symbolized by white coloured flowers
South – Brahma is symbolized by red flowers.
West – Mahadeva is symbolized by yellow coloured flowers.
On top of the flowers you will usually find a cookie, candy or some money in coins or paper money and a burning incense. This symbolizes the essence of the offering.
To ensure family harmony both the higher and lower spirits are honoured, to balance negativity and positivity, offerings are placed strategically in and around the home and the family temple. Outside the family compound at the gate there are usually little shrines on either side of the gate. Each of the gates will receive one offering. And 2 offerings are placed between them for the lower spirits. These are usually the ones you will trip on if you don’t take care.
Outside the Balinese homes you will also find the offerings almost everywhere, in front of shops, on altars, on crossroads, on steps and any other places where the Balinese believe is a point of conflict.
Next to the canang sari’s you will often also find a banana leaf with some food in it. These offerings are called “Banten Saiban” or “Jotan” and literally means “Saiban offering”. Every day after cooking and before eating the food cooked is offered as a token of gratitude.
When you see these offerings, don’t step/drive over or on them when the incense is still burning. This means that the essence or “sari” is still rising to heaven.