Bali’s Most Popular Offering
There are so many people who adore Bali. Its nature, its food, its art, and its culture become objects of admiration. Claude Theret is one of them. He showed his admiration to the Balinese culture through capturing what he loves most.
Taking place in Alliance France, Claude exhibited his ability in capturing Canang from various angles. Not only a photo exhibition but this event was also followed by a discussion about Canang conducting by Balinese expert; Warih Wisatsana. Accompanied by a France interpreter, Warih and two experts in Balinese culture tried to satisfy the audience curiosity about this Balinese most popular offering.
Canang is an offering which consists of various flowers. The container for these flowers is made from young coconut leaves. Generally, Canang comprises of three basic elements based on its form: circle, triangle, and square. These three forms represent moon, star, and sun. Basically, these three things radiate light so it is expected that through canang Balinese can capture God’s divine light so that their life will be better and peaceful.
Canang is offered and placed both in the holy building and on the ground. Though, in Balinese understanding, ground is the ‘lowest place’, it does not mean that canang which is offered on the ground does not represent the holiness. It is because canang is composed from something which grow from the soil (the flower, the coconut leaves, and other component are from earth) that canang have to put on the ground. As a result, canang connect to its source. In addition, canang which is offered on the ground is addressed to the evil to besides also put in the holy building for the ancestors and God.
As for the flowers that are used in canang, Balinese culture experts said that the placement of the flower is based on the color of each part of Cardinal point a la Balinese. Red flowers must be placed at the south side; white flower is put at east, blue at north and yellow at west etc.
Not all kind of can be used for Canang; Flower which is withering are forbidden to use. Moreover, using flower that is picked from the ground because it falls off from its twig is also forbidden. It is better using flower that is picked from its twig intentionally. Fresh flower without bug bite is suggested to use. Balinese also believe that gemitir (a fragrant orange flower), flower which grow in the graveyard, and flower which is struck by lightning are forbidden to use. And the most important thing is the flowers that are used have to be offered with sincerity.
In addition, Balinese also tolerate the use of plate as a substitution for the coconut leaves which is done by Hindus outside Bali. The expert argued that coconut leaves is hard to be obtained outside Bali so that it is tolerated if they use other thing as a place for the flower base.
It can be concluded that the important thing when making and offering Canang is sincerity. No matter how fancy that canang is, but if it is offered unwillingly it is deemed inappropriate.