Balinese Offerings, Spirits and Ice cream

Whosoever offers to me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, that offering of love, of the pure heart I accept.

 Krishna tells Arjuna what God expects and requires of an offering in the most famous passage from the Bhagavad Gita, (ix:26)

This passage lies at the heart of the Balinese tradition of preparing offerings : leaves, flowers, fruit and holy water are presented with devotion. Today’s offerings for Galungan, featured in the images below, however, differ in the sense that they are made to the returning spirits of ancestors and are placed in front of family homes in small enclosed palm leaf or bamboo cages.

Wandering the suburban back streets today, I was rather taken with these elaborately decorated cages at the base of each penjor, filled this morning with special banten or offerings. These offerings are more family based and idiosyncratic, with each basket protected from marauding birds and squirrels, so that the little rice cakes and other treats for the dead might survive for the whole of this auspicious day.

Today’s religious ceremonies start at the home temple: each family compound will have one small temple, usually found in the kaja-kangin corner of the compound.¹  Offerings are made here first, before travelling, on foot or by motorbike, to the larger community temples located in each banjar or district.

Dressed in their finest ceremonial clothes, the Balinese are enjoying their holiday. For the modern Sanur based family, this means a cone or cup of Massimo’s gelato after the family prayers: the queues  outside Massimo’s gelateria are long, as men in ceremonial white udeng and finely woven sarongs, and women in white lacy kabaya and coloured sarongs queue for a sweet treat.

¹ Kaja-Kangin, two aspects of Balinese orientation, will be discussed fully in a later post.

 

3 thoughts on “Balinese Offerings, Spirits and Ice cream”

  1. Most friends coming to call never notice that I have had a small home temple for whichever Greater Powers are there to look after me twixt two tall African candlesticks on a sideboard forever . . . there are always flowers there . . . no particular religion . . . just to the Powers that are . . . Going past I oft say a few words of prayer or express a hope . . . so these observances here are not hard to understand tho’ no rice cakes may be in the offing . . . 🙂 !

    Liked by 1 person

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