Have you visited Bali on your travels? Well, you will have noticed the flowers that are scattered along the pavements in little handmade boxes. You will see many of them lining the pavements and perched all over the city. These offerings are simply everywhere. They are in fact a very important part of Balinese life and are a daily devotion of gifts to their belief systems and for the gods. There is a darker side to it and they use these offerings to appease the demon spirits that may be hanging around. So it is apparent that they are much more than simply just decorations. They will give three main offerings a day, one before every meal, where they will then place them in different locations around their house and on the street in front of their house or restaurant.
The basket is made out of banana leaves and contains a separate ‘crown’, also made from banana leaves that must be within the centre or it cannot be offered to the gods. Each point; North, East, South and West must have the correct colour of flower as each point has a different meaning (shown in the picture). Greenery is then placed within the centre and sometimes you will notice the addition of rice and an incense stick. The belief is that the incense will burn and reach right to the gods.
During my volunteering programme we were lucky enough to have balinese flower offerings classes where we had the opportunity to make a flower offering. I have to say it is far harder than the Balinese woman make it look. Although, they will make around 50 a day so it’s no surprise they make it look easy. Many of us had to have a couple of attempts at making the basket. Next time that you are in Indonesia keep a look out for these beautiful flower offerings and treat them with respect. Ensure you do not kick them with your feet and try not to walk over the top of them.
Balinese women will wake at 3am to go to the market and purchase the best of the flowers as any later and there will be no fresh flowers left. Balinese families all settle down for the night early as their day begins in the middle of the night. The women will then spend a large part of their day constructing these offerings and placing them around their home.
It truly is amazing to see cultures that have such strong belief systems that is replicated across the country. As western travellers it is easy for us to just look at things around us in different countries and view such things as cute and decorative. When you actually just stop and take time to learn the true meaning behind rituals that you may notice around you, it gives you the wonderful chance to delve deeper into the cultures of such incredible countries. It is one of things that I love most about travel, is being able to learn about this incredible world that we live in and the people that I have the opportunity to meet.
Claire is a paediatric nurse that first went to Thailand in 2011 and that’s where the travel bug hit. She took a leap of faith last year and gave up her stable job to go travelling to New Zealand and South East Asia. She then spent one month volunteering in Bali teaching local school children healthcare education, afterwards she moved to Australia and landed her dream job in a neonatal intensive care unit. This allows her to pursue her love of travelling when ever she gets the chance. Next week she is off to live locally in Thailand for two months. To keep up with Claire on her travels, you can follow along over on her Instagram account @claireflora.