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Kind of Offering's (Banten) in Bali, did you know it?

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What is offering's - Offerings are called Banten in Balinese. It is possible that the word comes from the Sanskrit word Bali, which means tribute, obligation or gift. Or it may be derived from the word Enten, which means to wake up or be conscious. It is a consciousness of the gods.

Offerings are gifts. They are a means of giving something back. But, of course, gifts obligate the recipient and so the system creates mutual obligations and favors, even between humans and spirits. With offerings to the demons, however, the offered does not expect a gift in return, just the favor that the demons will go away.

There is another indirect purpose. The article entitled Balinese Religion mentioned the symbolic function of holy water binding communities together. Offerings have the same purpose. During a temple ceremony offerings are made to many different gods. They may be to the god of the temple itself, to the god of the main temple to which the temple itself belongs, to the gods of the nearby village temples, to the god of the origin temple to which the village temple belongs and to a nature god, perhaps Earth, Mother or Sea God.

The offerings define the temple's position in the hierarchy of temples and its relationship to its local community.

one of the most striking things about Bali is the daily profusion of offerings. Offerings are important; they are to give pleasure to the gods (and the demons). They provide good karma to those involved in their preparation. Nearly every village has its own unique forms of offerings. 

Some Balinese spend all their lives making them. Women mostly, but not exclusively, it depends on type of offering. Men prepare offerings made of flesh and meat. Men make offerings made of pig skin, fat and entrails. They kill and clean roast pigs, grill chickens and ducks and cook satay. They also prepare sacrificial animals and the temporary shrines and ritual accessories made of bamboo. Some can only be made by Brahman women. The work in preparing an offering, itself is an element of worship, and is regarded as part of its content.

An offering must have a container. Some offerings are placed in round containers carved of gold or silver. They are made in various sizes. Nobody knows when the Balinese started using Bokor as ritual utensils. There are no recorded documents.

It is said that the Pande clan of silversmiths, who lived in the village of Nongan in Karangesem in East Bali, about 60 kilometres from Denpasar, made them first. Now there are only seven artisans in Bali, who do so.

During the Dutch colonial period, it was difficult to find the raw materials and the only way was to collect tin coins, called Pis Bolong, and melt them in a heated kiln at 200 degrees Celsius. Finding the coins was a risky business. The Dutch imposed a prison sentence for anyone found collecting, much less using them to make Bokor.

The tall offerings have a soft banana tree trunk in the center to serve as a core for inserting bamboo skewers to which the fruits and other things are attached.

Every offering has at least three ingredients: areca nut, betel leaf and lime. The reason is symbolic; the colors, red, green and white are the colors associated with Brahma,
Wisnu and Siwa. But unlike the rest of the offering, whose essence is enjoyed by the gods, these are the places actually occupied by Brahma, Wisnu and Siwa. These three ingredients allow the gods actually to be present. Rice is also always a component.

Offerings accompany ceremonies and prayers. They vary considerably in complexity. Some are very simple, some very tiny; others can be several meters high. If there is an important ceremony, such as a temple ceremony, enormous towers of flowers, fruit, cakes, meats and eggs are made at home and carried to the temple by women on their heads, often for long distances. Offerings are made of entirely natural things. They all have a very short life, but they contain the things that the gods like, the things that the Balinese like.

On very special occasions, like a wedding or a tooth-filing, figurines of colored rice dough are made, fried and attached to a huge bamboo frame, several meters high, which represent the universe symbolically. There are ascending levels. They often have a gate, shaped like the Kori Agung gateway in a temple, the gateway to heaven. There are many flowers, fruits, leaves and other floral elements. Bhoma, with his large round face and bulging eyes, is above the gateway, symbol of the middle world and fertility, son of Mother Earth and Wisnu. The Cili, symbol of the Rice goddess and fertility, always has a place. The base is often Bedawang Nala, the turtle, on which the world rests, with the two snakes. These sarads take many people several days' work. They last a week or so and are never eaten. They are accompanied by big meat offerings consisting of pig meat, intestines and fat, which are made by men.

Another kind of offering, much smaller, is made by pinning palm leaves from the coconut palm, sugar palm or Lontar palm trees, and sewing them together with little pins of bamboo, or alternatively plaiting them into little containers. These are fashioned in numerous quantities.

Offerings for Durga and the demons always contain some pork or fish, onions, ginger and alcohol (palm wine or brem).




Last changed: Tue Mar 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm

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