Balinese Hindus place beautiful offerings, known as canangsari, in front of their houses. Mixtures of flowers, leaves, fruit, rice and crackers are laid out in handmade boats or trays of betel leaves, called a porosan. Each offering must be in a porosan and contain an areca nut and a lime. These key items represent the three manifestations of the Hindu supreme spirit, Sanghyang Widhi: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. Offerings are set out on shrines, to appease the good sprits, and on the ground, to appease the evil sprits. Often lighted incense is placed in the canangsari, sending beautiful fragrances out into the morning air.
We arrived during Galungan, a celebration that marks the time where ancestral sprits visit the earth. The people preform rituals to welcome and entertain the spirits. Each family constructs an elaborate bamboo pole, called a penjor, that is placed to the right of the home’s entrance. These decorated poles have offerings hanging from them as well as a bamboo alter near the base to place daily canangsaris.
I mention the canangsaris and the penjors because they immediately caught my interest and I find them so lovely. Each penjor is unique, some have curled palm leaves traveling up the pole like a series of waves, others have wild grass flowers hanging in a line down the pole. The alters are woven and generally have palm fronts sprouting in all directions making them look like a Rastafarian with a bad hair day.