While in Bali, you will immediately notice that daily morning offerings, also called ‘Canang sari’ are placed everywhere, at the foot of temples, on statues, at the entrance door of a home or shop, on the beach, everywhere.

Do they make them for the tourists?


These beautiful and colorful creations are not there for the tourists, the creation and placement of these daily offerings are an integral part of Balinese Hindu-culture.You could say that canang sari symbolizes a form of gratitude to the gods. They are said to maintain balance and peace on earth, between good and evil, between gods and demons, between heaven and hell.

Why do Balinese make morning offerings?


In Balinese Hinduism, the cosmos is divided into three layers: heaven where the Hindu gods live; the world where the humans live; and hell, where demons reside. The canang sari shows gratitude to the gods in heaven but also honors the demons in hell so that they stay where they are and don’t disturb us. With this ritual Balinese Hindus aim to maintain balance between good and bad.


How are the offerings made?


The creation of a Canang sari is quite complex. Although it may seem that the different object have been placed randomly, this is not at all the case. Every object in the basket has its specific place and honors a certain Hindu God.

The base tray is made of palm leaf and is a symbol for the earth and the moon. Decorations of coconut leaves symbolize the stars.

The three major Hindu Gods will be represented in the canang sari as follows: a white lime for Shiva, a red betel nut for Vishnu, and a green Gambier plant for Brahma.

On top of these, some flower petals will be placed. The color and placement of the flowers also bears significance; white petals represent the east and will also be put at the east-side. They represent the god Iswara. Red petals are put to the south for Brahma, yellow flowers to the west for Mahadeva, and blue or green ones to the north for Vishnu.

Putting some old Chinese coins, paper money or food on top to demonstrate selflessness often completes the offering.

What do they do with the offerings?


The offerings are made in order to accompany the daily morning prayer.

After completing the creation of the canang sari, the incense is lit, holy water is sprinkled on the canang sari with a flower and a prayer is spoken as smoke carries the meaning of the canang sari to the gods. Even this ritual is full of symbols: water, wind, fire and earth. 


Who makes the offerings?


In Bali, making the morning offerings is the task of the women. It is part of their daily life and a good wife is supposed to know how to make a canang sari. In recent years, where more and more Balinese women have a job, the offerings can now also be bought pre-made  at the market. However the meaning and purpose of the morning offering remains the same. While praying and putting the offerings around the house or business, the women will wear a sarong and if this is not possible they will certainly wear a sash out of respect for the gods. The ritual needs to be repeated every morning.

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