So anyways, they’re tough to miss- the beautiful little palm baskets that are left around shrines, statues, doorways, roadsides, paths, steps…wherever.
Some are elaborate, most are not. Some contain a few petals, maybe some rice, a cigarette, a couple of tiny crackers, an incense stick. In fact, if anything was to define the smell of Ubud, it’s that combination of incense and frangipani.
We watch the (mostly) ladies as they carry their baskets of offerings on their heads, and then carefully place them- saying a little prayer as they complete the mini ceremony.
Who are the offerings to? The Gods of course- and there are many. The tributes are designed to both thank and appease. They’re also given to the demons as a sort of proactive if I give you this will you leave me alone and go away type of thing.
Large parts of the day are spent in making the offerings, and dispersing them around the family compounds, places of work etc. It’s a responsibility and a commitment, but there’s also ritual and respect in the daily repetition. It’s a deliberate slowing down to be present in the process.
These days, as life is busy, this too can be outsourced- well, at least the construction phase- as complete offerings can be purchased at local markets.
Yes, they are a beautiful and sunshiney addition to the drabbest of concrete paths, but the offerings are more than that- they’re also a lovely window into the Balinese culture and belief system, and an understanding of how that system colours everyday life.