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Canang Sari: The Balinese Offering

One of most common things you will see when visiting the magical tropical paradise called Bali are offerings. You can't miss them. They are everywhere; on the roads, in the front of stores, in front of shrines. near market stalls, on street corners, etc. In fact, wherever you find the Balinese people engaging in their everyday activities, generally speaking, you will see offerings.

The concept of offerings is not foreign to me. As a devotee of the African spiritual tradition of Ifa, I am quite familiar with the concept of giving offerings. However, I was fascinated to discover how devoted everyday Balinese folk were in performing their daily ritual of giving offerings. I can remember in one of the first bed and breakfasts' I stayed in Ubud, a friendly middle aged Balinese woman would religiously walk around the compound and leave offerings at specific locations. She did it with such grace and devotion. I became accustomed to seeing offerings near my doorstep along with the fragrant smell of burning incense.

Called canang sari, Balinese offerings are a testament of the Balinese's firm belief in the spiritual world and the ability of the spirits to influence their daily lives. The offerings are also a symbol of the Balinese belief that they can use the offerings to influence their luck and fortune in life.

Standard canang sari are composed of betel leaf, lime, gambier, prestige, tobacco and betel nuts. The flowers represent prayers to the three major Hindu Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Incense is offered to allow the prayers and "essence" of the offering to rise to heaven. Offerings are also placed on the roads to placate other spirits who the Balinese believe have influence over various aspects of daily life. The ones in the home and in the temple are usually for

Common courtesy dictates that you should not walk over the offerings while the incense is burning, nor should you kick them over. The offerings are like a prayer being offered to God and the spirits. It is usually the women who prepare the offerings and offer them to the spirits.

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