All You Need To Know About Canang Sari: Balinese Daily Offering

Have you ever walked down any street in Bali, and noticed an attractive small and square woven basket made from banana leaf and filled with flowers? Or while visiting a temple and you see Balinese people carry over unique towers creations made of various fruits during traditional ceremonies? Those are called Balinese offerings.

Balinese offerings can be spotted in every corner of Bali. From a few grains of rice stuck to a slice of banana leaf, the daily small offering placed around a home, to the towers of fruit, cake, poultry, and livestock carried in procession to temple, Balinese offerings are a common thing you will see while in Bali.

One of the Balinese offerings that you will often see especially on the road is the daily offering called canang sari. It is unique and beautiful, but more importantly, it has a deep meaning and purpose especially in the heart of Balinese people. Curious enough about canang sari and other Balinese offerings? Follow our writings here for a better understanding.

Read also: 7 Must-Follow Rules (and Whys) When Visiting Temples in Bali

What is Canang Sari?

balinese offering canang sari

Canang Sari is a Balinese offering that serves daily and used as a way for Balinese people to express their gratitude and honor to the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (God) or the creators of life. The offerings symbolize praise and prayer to maintain balance and peace on earth, between good and evil, between Gods and demons, between heaven and hell.

As a daily offering, canang sari are placed everywhere, at the foot of temples, on statues, at the entrance door of a home or shop, on motorbikes, on the beach, everywhere. The word ‘Canang’ refers to the tray and ‘Sari’ to the essence of the offering, such as cash, snacks, and cigarettes. It usually contains various flowers that have different meanings and are placed in specific directions.

The process of making canang sari is taken care of by Balinese women and has become their daily life. It is said a good wife is supposed to know how to make canang sari. But in recent years, canang sari can also be bought pre-made at traditional markets in Bali. However, the meaning and purpose of it remain the same.

As a sacred and traditional thing, during praying and putting canang sari around, the women need to wear a sarong and sash out of respect for the Gods. The ritual needs to be repeated every morning.

Read also: A Guide to Bali Traditional Clothes: The Names & Their Meaning

Parts and the meaning of Canang Sari

Canang sari consists of some parts, such as peporosan, ceper, raka-raka, and sampian urasari. Peporosan is the core material that is made from betel leaf, lime, gambier, prestige, tobacco and betel nuts. The material of peporosan symbolizes the Trimurti, the three major Hindu Gods. Shiva is symbolized by lime, Vishnu is symbolized by betel nut, and Brahma is symbolized by gambier.

Canang sari is covered by a tray made from palm leaf, called ceper, and used as a symbol of Ardha Candra. Raka-raka is topped with sampian urasari, which are in turn overlaid by flowers placed in a specific direction. Canang Sari is using flowers with different colors and placed in specific directions and each of them symbolizes a Hindu God.

  • White flowers point to the east and are a symbol of Iswara, one of the primary forms of God
  • Red flowers point to the south as a symbol of Brahma, one of the Supreme in the Triad of Great Hindu Gods
  • Yellow flowers point to the west as a symbol of Mahadeva, the Most Supreme God
  • Blue or green flowers pointing to the north are a symbol of Vishnu, the Preserver within the Hindu Trinity of the Divinity

A canang sari is completed by placing it on top of the canang an amount of kepeng (coin/paper money) which is said to make up the sari (the essence) of the offerings itself.

Purpose of Canang Sari

praying during canang sari process

Balinese believes that the cosmos is divided into three layers: heaven where the Hindu gods live; the world where the humans live; and hell, where demons reside. Canang Sari aims to maintain a balance between the good and bad, as it is used to show gratitude to the gods in heaven. However, it also honors the demons in hell so that they stay where they are and not invade the world.

During canang sari placement ritual, the crucial element is a prayer which is said to deliver the sari (essence) of the canang to heaven. For each canang sari, a jepun flower is dipped in water from a holy spring.

Furthermore, the holy water will be used to sprinkle the canang in a symbolic fusion of earth, fire, wind, and water. Finally, after the palms of the canang’s basket are bound together, a prayer is spoken as smoke from burning incense carries the essence of the offering to the gods.

Read also: All about Balinese Sarong: A Complete Guide

Other types of Balinese offerings

Apart from canang sari as the daily offering, there are also other types of Balinese offerings. All offerings have basic components such as fire, water, and flowers, while the additional items are according to one’s profession and wealth, and the season in which they are made. As a sacred ritual, all offerings must use high-quality ingredients and cleanse before the placement.

Here are several kinds of other Balinese offerings you will see in Bali:

1. Daksina

Daksina is one of the most important offerings in Bali which is used for big ceremonies such as weddings, or birth ceremonies. Daksina is made of coconut or lontar leaves and has bucket forms consisting of coconut, egg, uncooked rice, fruits, and more. This offering is used to show gratitude, and for asking salvation to God.

2. Banten Peras

another type of balinese offerings called banten peras

Banten Peras offerings consist of uncooked rice, fruit, coin and other additional items put into a bamboo plate. This offering is used to inaugurate a ceremony and accompanied by Daksina offering. Bantun Peras is a must offering especially for ceremony as it has the purpose to request the success of the ceremony.

3. Banten Pejati

Banten Pejati is used to express sincerity towards Sang Hyang Widhi and his manifestation. This offering can be used in every ceremony anytime anywhere. Banten Pejati is also called ‘Banten Peras Daksina’ since it has the same creation of Daksina offering.

4. Banten Ajuman

Banten Ajuman consists of fruit such as orange or banana, snack or bread, sometimes there is also yellow rice used.  This offering is also made from coconut leaves just like the other Balinese offering, but it has a round shape.

5. Gebogan

another type of balinese offering called gebogan

Gebogan offerings are tower shapes that consist of fruits and cakes. It is beautiful and colorful as Gebogan is used to express gratitude to God for the infinite blessing. Whenever this offering is used for a ceremony, the Balinese woman will carry it on their head along the way to the temples.

Life-lessons from Balinese offerings

After knowing the meaning and purpose of Balinese offering, you need to be careful not to step on it on the road in Bali. Furthermore, there are a few life lessons you can take from the sacred Balinese offering tradition.

1. Taking our time and making meaning

Bring more joy into our lives and be grateful for every moment whether it is a simple or complex thing. Start living your life with a common concept that can make a huge difference in your life, and even to others.

2. Being versus doing

Step away from the to-do lists and start to build a relationship with yourself or others, can be one of the ways to experience the best life lessons. It is important to know your authentic self and your true side.

3. Outward focus

Building a focus into something outside of your own can avoid becoming overwhelmed, anxious or feel isolated. Start using the recognition of our feelings as a signal that we may need an outward to shift your internal experience.

4. Showing Gratitude

Considering what you are thankful for, and expressing it on a daily basis is useful to increase your happiness and bring a good time into your daily life.

5. Ritual, devotion, and faith

Starting to commit to things that are important to your life will bring a deep sense of purpose and connection to yourself and even to others. In the long term, this commitment will help you to develop trust and faith inside yourself.

6. Life is sacred

Living your life as a sacred thing means that you will appreciate every beautiful moment, experience, and good connections that happen. Take a moment right now to consider the magic of being human and the lessons learned in life.

So there you have it, all the things you need to know about Balinese daily offerings. From what it is, to the meaning behind it, and other types of Balinese offerings, it has been explained here. You can also learn the life lessons Balinese offerings can give.

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