Sunday, 3 August 2008

a life full of offerings...

Sunday 3rd August 2008

one of the things that never ceased to amaze when i last lived in Bali, was the whole system of offerings. in Bali, people here practise a different form of Hinduism to the one you might find in say India. here, a large part of the practise, is taken up with the creation and the tradition of making offerings. offerings come in many shapes and sizes. on the simplest level they are offered daily to express gratitude to benevolent spirits and placate mischievous demons. those placed in high places are naturally meant for the friendly spirits and those that you might see on the ground are meant for those lurking spirits who might disturb the harmony in life. remember this when you see these offerings lying on the ground and think that you have to hop and jump over them all the way down the road. you don't. these offerings, although still beautiful can and are trampled on as well as eaten from by dogs and whatever else.

more elaborate offerings are made for visits to the temple and these will be the offerings that you see stacked up high, with fruit and sweet cakes and decorated elaborately with leaves folded into intricate designs. they are extremely beautiful and it is an incredible sight to see a procession of women carrying these offerings to the temple to be blessed. this is done by a holy man who sprinkles the offerings with holy water while reciting prayers and mantras. the offerings are then brought back home and shared by all in the family. it is a special time and nothing is left to waste as each family member happily enjoys the fruits of the gods.

within each offering itself though their lies a certain method to the creation. The colours and numbers of flowers and other ingredients, for example, refer to deities who guard the cardinal directions. The requisite betel on top of every offering symbolizes the Hindu Trinity, as do the three basic colors used - red for Brahma, black or green for Wisnu, and white for Siwa. it is an incredibly beautiful way of recreating the universe through art.

i admire and respect the Balinese women who as a daily chore make and create these amazing works of art. their faith and strength in their culture and traditions is astounding in a time when most people in the west are turning away from the things they grew up knowing and loving and instead have gone in search of 'a new horizon'. it is admirable that in this day in age, here in Bali, people are remaining true to their roots and standing by the things they have been passed down. i look around this land and although i feel such a strong connection to it, i remember that i am a visitor, given the opportuninty to experience what is here but also remembering that the things i see and learn have been here long before me, and will continue long after i am gone...
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