I returned home yesterday afternoon from Ubud to find offerings being made ready for tomorrow’s ceremony. Bu Badung, Putu & a Dadong (grandmother) had obviously spent most of the day working on them as there were baskets full of them on the benches. I was so surprised because the day before they had prepared for the full moon offerings and I thought there would be a brief break, but as Bu Badung said, “This is the way for a Balinese person.’ One ceremony finishes and you immediately start preparing for another.
I sat down with them and was soon told by Bu Badung how I could help! I just love being able to help and even though I am given the most basic of tasks, I am always made to feel as though my contribution is really appreciated. As I was placing the flowers, I could hear the Dadong commenting in Balinese about how odd it was that I, as a non Hindu, was helping to make the offerings! Bu Badung laughed and explained that I always help out and enjoy learning about the many different offerings.
We sat on the edge of the bale which is almost only used for preparing offerings. In the middle of the bale is a table covered with a mat made from woven pandanus leaf.
Around the edges are shelves, benches, cupboards and several large plastic bags; all covered or full of the paraphernalia needed to make the offerings. Here are a few to give you an idea of the amazing variety;
This morning, I woke up at 4am because I heard Bu Badung moving around the yard. Hearing the sound of her sweeping the yard reassured me that nothing was amiss, so I headed back to bed and the next thing I knew, it was 7:30am! Soon after I opened my windows, I Luh (my nephew’s wife) delivered my morning tray of breakfast – cut up papaya, a mango & a cup of Bali Coffee and informed me that the family were all busy in the kitchen making sate & lawar! I am so annoyed that I slept in this morning or all mornings! Lawar is one of my favourite foods and so that I could photograph the ingredients and procedure, I quickly scoffed my breakfast and headed to the kitchen.
Making lawar is traditionally a job for the men. I was lucky to be able to watch Kakek and his oldest grandson, Kadek, make 2 types of lawar. The ingredients for them both included chili, spices, grated coconut, pork meat, blood & rind, fried onion, salt and palm sugar.
While the lawar is being made just outside the kitchen, a few sate were fried in the kitchen, firstly by Bu Badung and then Kadek.The lawar and sate that were made today were for one of the offerings being prepared for tomorrow. Enough were made for breakfast & lunch too!
Putu, Kadek’s mum, finished off another type of offering and these ones are totally different to all the others I have seen while I have been in Sayan.
Each offering uses a different base depending on the ceremony. I have often seen Kakek sitting down with a pile of coconut leaves and a stapler making them during a quiet moment. They are then stored in bags or baskets to dry out. Having a supply of the bases certainly makes it easier when putting the offerings together, however as there are so many bags and baskets full of them, it can take a while searching through them all looking for a particular one!
I Luh then came into the bale were everyone is working to look for the decorations needed for the sangah.(main family temple)
I accepted her offer to go to the sangah to see what was happening there. I quickly grabbed one of the selendang hanging on the post outside the kitchen and wrapped it around my waist while following I Luh to the sangah. Wow – it too was a hive of activity with a small group of young women and men working together to prepare the temple for tomorrow. There were also some really young children riding their bikes around underfoot but instead of getting in anyone’s way, they just worked around the youngsters, occasionally stopping to take a photo of the kids pulling faces! It feels just like when the family get together to decorate the Christmas tree at home! Everyone having fun and working together.
The sangah looks so different today compared to when I was here the other day with I Luh. Today is sunny and dry for a start! Yellow and white satiny material is wrapped around the shrines like a skirt and decorations made from either coconut leaves or man made materials have been hung from a hook below where the offerings will be placed tomorrow.
My other sister, Sudani, then arrived bearing many plastic bags full of offerings she had bought as well as more flowers and food to go in the offerings yet to be made.
She dropped the bags off and then headed straight out again to buy some jajan (traditional Balinese sweets like dadar gulung [green pancakes])from the market. These too will be added to the offerings.
The jajan were added to the most comprehensive offerings made so far since I have been here. They were several layers deep and contain a mixture of food and flowers topped with intricate coconut leaf decorations.
Ten of these were made for the various temples and 1 also was made for the kamar suci (holy room). Once they were finished they were stored safely away and will be carried to the temple tomorrow for the priest to bless during the ceremony.
Once these offerings were put away, I could feel everyone relax and start to breathe again with the knowledge that the main requirements for tomorrow were finished. We swept the floor which was covered in a mixture of organic and non organic debris and the bale once again looked neat and tidy.
Funnily enough, instead of relaxing and having a break, Sudani & Dadong grabbed some banana leaves and sat on the table chatting further and making tiny little boat like containers.