Visitors to Bali are often intrigued by the lovely compositions of flowers and leaves that the Balinese set out in shrines, on sidewalks, and even on the dashboards of their cars. These little canang offerings are addressed to the many spirits and energies of the invisible world that, along with the visible world, make up Balinese reality.
Balinese offerings are prayers made visible. The labor of making them is itself a devotion.
At Komaneka, guests are invited to learn to make offerings from Balinese staff members, who are happy to share this knowledge.
Offerings are a part of daily life in Bali. They are made and offered by women, who learn from childhood how to cut tender young coconut leaves and pin them with slivers of bamboo (smat) to make containers of all shapes and sizes. These are filled with rice, flowers, betelnut, and many other ingredients, depending on the particular type of offering. Ornamental festoons are made by cutting pretty patterns in the leaves and then bending them into origami-like shapes.
On certain holy days, such as the full moon and the dark of the moon, larger offerings are made in the home, in shops and offices, and in temples (as well as in the shrines at Komaneka). And for religious ceremonies such as temple festivals, cremations, and weddings, the offerings are so large and complex that it takes an entire community to prepare them over days, weeks, or even months.
Balinese offerings are a transitory, fleeting art. Once they have been consecrated and offered to the gods (and their followers, the ground spirits), the edible parts of offerings are taken home to be consumed; the rest is thrown away. New offerings will be made afresh as soon as they are needed.