Bali, in Indonésia, was a semi-independent society of buddhists and hindus until the fourteenth century, time when it was settled by Majapahits hindus from Java. These took with them their religion, rituals, art, literature, music and culture. Although there were already strong religious beliefs and an active cultural life, this new influence simply superimposed on the existing practices, which made the balinese interpretation of hinduism so peculiar. Since then, Bali has enchanted the world!
When we land on this island, known as Island of Gods, we enter directly into a world of ancient traditions, patent in colourful ceremonies, dramatic dances and wonderful temples. Gods, demons and spirits are part of a whole spiritual that makes part of the balinese daily life, that absorb us.
Daily rituals are practiced by balinese people in order to maintain harmony between good and evil. For them, even the good as the bad spirits, need the same attention, care and affection. Canang sari is one of the daily offerings made by balinese hindus to Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa, the Supreme God. The word canang is composed by two syllables of the Kawi language (ancient javanese): can, means beautiful and nang, purpose. At the same time, sari means essence. Thus, Canang sari is the essence of the mind, the pure purpose as a symbol of fidelity and respect for the Gods.
Palm leaves, food, colourful flowers, incense and tobacco usually constitute Canang sari. This one is finished by putting up an amount of money, kepeng, hence doing the essence, sari, of the offering.
While preparing this offering, balinese hindus invest their time and effort doing a self sacrifice, fulfilling the perspective and philosophy of balinese life, Tri Hita Karana. Tri means three, Hita prosperity and Karana causes, being, therefore, an universal concept which is based on three causes for prosperity, attracting harmonious and balanced relationships. Ties the relation of man with God, Parahyangan, with the surrounding environment, Palemahan, and with the humanity, Pawongan.
While walking through Bali, we come across these offerings in temples, streets, beaches, shops, familiar shrines and even on the sidewalks. Step up in one is seen as a great offense, so be careful and watch your feet!