Balinese Offerings…

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So anyways, they’re tough to miss- the beautiful little palm baskets that are left around shrines, statues, doorways, roadsides, paths, steps…wherever.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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