The Canang Sari - A Balinese Daily Offering

August 25, 2017

The 'Canang Sari' 
Balinese Daily Offering

On your travels around Bali island, you'd had probably come across little pieces of flower-filled leaf baskets on the pavements as you walk on by, in doorways, on street corners, junctions, homes, shops and temples. These pretty and vibrant little pieces are called the "Canang Sari" - they are daily offerings used by the Balinese Hindus at specific times of the day for prayers, usually at 6am, 12 noon or 6pm and of course during ceremonies, big and small.

The Canang Sari plays a significant role in the lives of every Balinese Hindu. It is the smallest piece of offering yet the most important as it is the core quantity in any Balinese worship or offering. It is called the "core" because, in every worship and offering, no matter how elaborate, there must be a Canang Sari placed within it. The word Canang is derived from 2 words; the first is 'Can' which means beautiful, while 'Nang' means purpose, and 'Sari' means core. Thus the Canang Sari is a symbol for everything that is good in life and beautiful and is also a symbol of the Balinese people's gratitude to God. 

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The making of the Balinese Canang Sari is not as easy as it looks. Primarily women's work, the Balinese Canang Sari are made from leaves cut and shaped into squares and circles sewn together with tiny sharp sticks before being filled a variety of colourful flowers; red flowers should face South, yellow to the West, black flowers to the North topped with fragrant finely chopped pandan leaves.

From various sources, it is mentioned that the Canang Sari is a creation of Mpu Sangkulputih who became a 'Sulinggih' - a Balinese Saint, and then eventually replaced Danghyang Rsi Markandeya in Pura Besakih, Bali. In this week's newsletter, we'd like to share you some of the things that we know about the Canang Sari.

The Making of The 'Canang Sari'

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1. Ceper

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It is the foundation or base of the Canang itself which has a rectangular shape and symbolizes angga-sarira (body). The four flat sides represent the formers of the ari-sarira, namely Panca Maha Bhuta, Panca Tan Mantra, Panca Buddhindriya, and Panca Karmendriya.

2Rice (Wija)

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It is a symbol of Sang Hyang ?tma or a spirit that makes the body come alive. It also represents the beginning of life that comes from God in the form of ?tma.

3. Porosan, Balinese Cake, Cane, and Banana

Photo by: Nita

Porosan is usually made from betel leaves, lime, and jambe that symbolizes Tri-Premana, which consists of Bayu (act), Sabda (talk), and Idep (mind). Those three things represent the body and its activities. The Porosan reflects all people, who must have a heart full of love, compassion, and gratitude to God. Balinese cake, cane, and banana are symbolic of Tedong Ongkara that symbolizes the power of UpettiStiti, and Pralinan in life in the universe.

5. Sampian Uras 

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It symbolizes the wheel of life with its "eight characteristics" that accompany every human life.

6. Flowers

Flowers are the part that makes the Canang Sari look more interesting. Every colour and position of every flowers on a Canang Sari has its meaning or symbolizes something. White flowers are arranged in the East as a symbol of Sang Hyang Iswara. Red coloured flowers are arranged in the South as a symbol of Sang Hyang Brahma. Yellow flowers are arranged in the West as a symbol of Sang Hyang Mahadeva. Blue or Green coloured flowers are arranged in the North as a symbol of Sang Hyang Vishnu. Rampai flower arranged in the middle as a symbol of power Sang Hyang Panca Dewata. Kembang Rempai that comes from pandan leaves also has a meaning as a symbol of wisdom. The combination of various flowers where there are fragrant flowers or flowers with no fragrance at all symbolizes the human life that is not always happy or sad. For this reason, people should have the wisdom to arrange their lives accordingly.

7. Lengis Miyik (Balinese Perfume)

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It is a symbol of good attitude and behavior. Behavior determines people's judgment on the good or bad of a person. It also symbolizes peace of mind or self-control. In order to organize the life, people should run it with the peace of mind and good self-control.

Well, those are some information about the Canang Sari. The next time you come across a Canang Sari on your travels, you'll know what it is for and how it is made! We hope you've found this post useful. Do share with your family and friends and your holiday snaps, stories and videos with us. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram and tag us for a chance to be featured!