I arrived in Bali at night. When I woke the next morning, I found a little basket made of palm leaves containing flowers, food and incense on the door step of my villa. By lunch the food had been half eaten by birds, cats and dogs. By mid-afternoon the little basket had been pretty much destroyed – flowers spread everywhere and the basket completely trampled. When I returned in the evening the basket had been covertly whisked away from my door step. I never saw who put it there, nor who took it away.
And sure enough every morning a new offering would appear – I soon learned this was a daily ritual in Bali.
The little offerings are so much more to the Balinese people than pretty flower tributes that decorate the streets. It is believed that the offerings appease the demon spirits that hang around.
I had a love/hate relationship with offerings. On one hand I appreciate how much time and effort the Balinese people put into constructing them and I deeply respect the preservation of religious beliefs in a world where religion seems to be largely diminishing. On the other hand, my Western upbringing couldn’t help but feel that these offerings contribute to the worsening litter issues that were very evident in Bali. Many of the offerings end up in waterways and the surrounding ocean (and eventually in the stomach of a vulnerable sea creature).
All opinions shared in this post are, as always, my own.