The offerings are the woman’s domain—as stated to me several times by balinese men and women. Below, you see the grandmother and another woman beginning preparation of the morning offerings at my week-long homestay called Nirvana Pension in Ubud.
(Please excuse the crappy photos. My camera lens stopped working and I’m now limited to my iPhone camera. Plus for some reason, these photos aren’t enlarging).
At Nirvana Pension, they create something like 93 offerings each morning. The volume of offerings is dependent on the number of areas you are protecting or giving thanks. A basic location would be the entrance to your home. If you have a business, you would also put one there. If you have a car, a bike, a motorcycle, a home office, you will want to create offerings to place in or on each of these things. I can’t say I ever saw an offering on a motorcycle, but there was a fresh offering on the right-hand side of the dashboard of every taxi I’ve ridden in. (Here, see the reflection in the window on the right near the driver).
Here is an example of an entrance offering. This particular day, a coconut husk was being burned along with the offering and incense.
To create the offerings, coconut leaves are fashioned into boxes or flower-shaped containers. I’ve seen some people use staples, and others use small toothpick pieces to hold the edges together. The boxes then hold bits of various things… petals, grass, perhaps whole flowers, and sometimes I’ve seen dollops of rice and even small baggies of what looks like coffee (as a liquid, not as grounds) placed on top. Leaves may be spliced and twirled into various shapes to decorate the finished piece.
When the offering is placed, I’ve seen some people dip a flower that looks like a cosmos or daisy into a bowl and then flick the water in the direction of the offering. I was told that they must get the water, which has been blessed, from their priest.
Most of the places I’ve stayed, I’ve had offerings placed for me at my entrance (I’m in a regular hotel now – so no offering). In this photo, that is my door in the background, and this little checkered, decorated tower seemed to be assigned to both my bungalow, and the one across from me. It received a new offering every day.
Here are examples of some of the offerings I’ve seen. Old ones aren’t necessarily discarded so they seem to pile up at times.
These can be found all up and down the street in front of houses, on the sidewalks in front of businesses, and anywhere someone felt it was appropriate to place an offering. Given the narrow sidewalks and their location underfoot, it is quite common to see where someone has accidentally stepped on one (or several). As one balinese woman said
“No problem! The prayer is made when the offering is placed; then it is done. What happens after that is of no consequence.”
These offerings are on the ledge just prior to crossing a bridge.
This woman, below, is presenting offerings at the morning market. I asked our guide about this as it was my assumption that someone was taking responsibility for making offerings in lieu of others because it seemed like the place would overflow with offerings given how many stalls were there. I was told that EVERY business in that marketplace would make an offering if they worked there. There was one other location we passed that was more near the entrance.
Offerings have created a small industry. Here you see people providing bulk product for offerings (leaves, petals, flowers, small food items) or, you can buy the entire offering as a done deal. Our guide said this would be a last resort as one would feel guilty if they relied on pre-made offerings too frequently.
The women here carry things on their heads and they’re extremely skilled at it. I’ve seen the most lopsided things perched on heads that somehow are carried hands-free. These photos show women carrying offerings for ceremonies. The first and third photos are examples of offering boxes which are sold in all kinds of markets here.
Although these are not offerings, I love how the practice of the offering seems to spill over into a different type of awareness. Intentionally placed flowers, or even bits of colorful petals enliven a tiny location that would otherwise go unnoticed. Here are some examples:
Artistically, I love what the offerings bring to a space: little touches of color,
the smell of incense, and you know someone offered a prayer of thanks.
Thanks for following 🙂