Saiban: The Most Important Offering
The daily rhythm of Balinese life cannot be separated with the offering especially the simple daily offering, known as banten saiban or jotan. Though saiban is the simplest offering but it is considered the most important offering since it must be presented daily while others kind of offerings are presented once every 15 days, 30 days or 120 days. In Balinese logic, a presentation of an intricate big offering means nothing if the simplest daily offering cannot be presented properly, if you can not presented the simplest offering properly how can you presented the more complex one correctly.
The saiban offering is a symbol of appreciation to the God for the food about to be eaten. No Balinese will eat anything before the presentation of saiban offering is finished since it is believed that eating food without presenting the saiban is eating sin. Food is belong to the God and eating without showing appreciation to the God is considered as an act of thieving food from God.
The saiban or jotan is usually prepared by housewife rightly after the cooking activities are finished. The saiban offering usually consists of a little rice, a very small piece of meat or vegetables and some salt, all these foods are placed on a small triangle container made out of coconut leaf, banana leaf, or paper in urban area; the container is not always triangular in shape some areas in Bali use square container.
The saiban seems to be presented to everything or everywhere in the house compound from the ancestral shrines in the family temple to the motorcycles, from the stove in the kitchen to the bare earth in front of the gate of the house compound. There is no religious guidance on where the saiban should be presented; it is a matter of feeling, wherever the Balinese feel that the gods or spirits which reside in a certain place or thing deserve an offering of saiban the offering will be presented there. The number of saiban offering that is made by the housewife in a house compound will be different from her neighbors, based on the need of the respective house compound.