The Meaning of Daily Offerings in Bali

If you have been to Bali, you will have noticed the small square offerings that are everywhere—in front of houses and shops, on motorbikes, at crossroads and of course, in the temples. They are known as Canang Sari, something that is small in size but of great importance, and making them daily is mandatory for every Hindu in Bali. The philosophy behind them is self-sacrifice since they take and effort to prepare.

Bali canang sari
Source: @theartisanyogi (Instagram)
Canang Sari symbolizes gratitude to the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (God) in praise and prayer, thanking for the peace given to the world. The word Canang refers to the tray and Sari to the essence of the offering, such as a small sum of money, snacks, or even cigarettes. The offerings, also called Rarapan can be anything, small or big as long as they are offered with sincerity. A small Canang usually contains flowers and the colours of the flowers are not randomly chosen but have different meanings which placed in specific directions in the Canang:

  • 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

This simple household offering is done daily, sometimes as often as three times. There is a beautiful little ceremony involved, mostly performed by women—you can see them everywhere, even in the middle of heavy traffic. Another part of the magic of Bali!

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