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The story behind Canang Sari, offerings you can see everywhere

If you are in Bali you have most likely seen the little Hindu offerings scattered across the island’s streets. Small square or round palm leaf, filled with colorful flowers lying on the ground in front of houses, shops or temples.

They are called canang sari and they are daily Balinese offerings to the Gods. The phrase ‘canang sari’ derives from the Balinese word sari meaning essence and canang meaning a small palm-leaf basket. It is the symbol of thankfulness to the Hindu god, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa. It is offered every day as a form of thanking for the peace given to the world. The philosophy behind the offering is self-sacrifice because they take time and effort to prepare. Usually, the Balinese women would make canangs every day, but with the tourist boom and more and more Balinese working in hospitality, now you can buy them everywhere because there is no more time to make them. it is a lengthy process, usually done in a company of other women with a little chit chat and lots of fun – like having a cup of coffee with friends, The base of the canang is a square woven tray made from coconut leaf, betel nut, and lime which represent three Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

From east to west and north to south, four different colors of petals fill the basket each symbolizing a relation to a god. At the top of the compass, Vishnu is represented by blue or green, white flowers are given for Iswara at the east, the south is reserved for red and Brahma, and yellow is the color for the western direction and the god Mahadeva. Usually, canang sari stays out for one night after it is being prayed upon and offered and after that, they remove it and replace with the new one. So if you see canang sari on the ground when you are walking, do not step on it, or over it, because it is considered disrespectful to the culture and the religion. Especially be careful of the ones with incense that is still burning.

Bali Pocket Magazine