Wednesday, July 15
Hindu daily offerings, Banten, are a major part of balinese life, offerred 3 times a day and i have developed a bit of an obsession with them. They are platters, plates, bowl woven from strips of banana leaf and used to hold various offerings of flowers and food. These tiny offerings are made to appease the gods and demons and to honour the cycle of daily life. Every Hindu house has a temple; a giant structure, sometimes a whole compound of its own with many components, erected to honour family gone. The banten are placed everywhere here; in front of doorways, tucked into wall spaces, at the temple, even on the unused hotplate on the gas stove top.
Its beautiful, symbolic and deep with meaning and tradition. The main symbol of balinese Hinduism is the swastika,
found on the front a many temple gates and its taken me a while to accept it in aother, less sinister manner. I cant imagine what it must be like to live life according to such strict, aesthetic routine. Everyone gets changed into sarong and sash for the ritual of placing banten. Its a romantic notion for me. The shredded pandanus, that seems to be a staple of these banten, whirls around its incredible aroma every evening when the breeze lights up, and sends me to paradise as pandanus is one of the high note scents from the gods. Another offering to the gods which i think is just simply brilliant are the kites.
Not for the tourists folks, these enourmous flying pieces of art are also gifts to the gods and are flown just as a matter of course. I have seen a few being made on our warung road by men sitting on the street side and then a few days later... bingo! they're up above and darting around, anchored to a great clump of grass on the roadside.
At any given time we have about 6 flying above 'our house'. It really is no wonder Bali is such a popular place. Despite the tourist strips, you dont have to travel far to see the real Bali and be included in it. Yesterday on our way home from the waves we came across a huge procession about 150 strong of people clad in white, walking along the beach with gamelan playing. A cremation procession and ceremony was underway.
Gilded yellow and white umbrellas with ornate tassels and elaborate tasselated poles with many ornaments were carried and placed in the sand. A huge mound of multi storied banten covered a raised platform which i assumed covered a body. It was very beautiful. I have always loathed the western modern funeral which doesnt serve to comfort but fills me with dread. I didnt take any photos.
I have spent the last few days seriously contemplating on the throne and am only starting to feel a little better. Its put a bit of a dampner on things, but drugs appear to helping!