Bali’s Unique Offerings Traditions and the Meanings

Bali is famous for its unique culture and tradition. As an island located in Indonesia, Bali has become one of favorite tourism destinations. According to a survey conducted in 2000, about 92.29% Balinese people based their faiths in Hindu.  That’s make it unique since Hindu has the least followers in Indonesia. Most of Indonesian people base their faith in Islam. This situation was created once the Hindus came to the island as refugees after Islam surpassed Hinduism in Java in 16th century A.D. Java is the primary island in Indonesia.

Balinese Hinduism ritual in annual religious ceremony of “Nyepi”

As a society dominated with Hinduism, Balinese lifestyle, buildings, and tradition are basically also influenced with the culture of the oldest religion on earth. The people usually add some ornaments, carvings, even statues on their houses and buildings as a tradition.

A Traditional Balinese House

A Balinese Museum Architecture

Balinese people are generally religious. Many of them build temples in front of their houses, or spare a space in their front yard to pray and to set offerings. These people believe that their offerings can give them more luck in life, more prosperity, health, and can save them from any bad luck and danger. This time, I will focus on talking about the offerings tradition.

For Balinese Hindus, preparing offerings is an everyday-must-to-do tradition on their lists. The offerings may consist of coconut leaves, roses, jasmines, frangipanis, sometimes with some biscuits, dimes, rices, candies, and a few stalks of incenses. You will see the offerings if you cross over shops, hotels, offices, banks, houses, even in the middle of streets, beaches, and other areas. Every offering has a different meaning, depends on where the owner put it. If it’s placed in a shop, then the owner wishes for more visitors to come. If a mean of transportation has the offerings inside, it means the driver or the owner of the transportation wishes God to protect the driver and passengers. However, if an office, a hotel, or recreation area has it, it’s just a mean to protect them. The offerings can be found many more in religious ceremonies, which are usually in temples, beaches, and seas.

Balinese Offerings

A Balinese Offering On a Car

Since the offerings can also be found in pavements and in the middle of streets, you should be careful not to step on them, because there is a superstition that people who step on them will be met by “Leak”, a kind of Balinese version of demon, which are said to eat human’s organs. “Leak”, which means “Bad Witch” in English, eats dead bodies in cemeteries in the afternoon, while at night, they are said to appear as tigers, monkeys, pigs, even as human’s head with some parts of internal organs to hunt living human.

Balinese “Leak”

Okay, enough with the horror, let’s get back to the offerings stuff :p

The offerings are usually set on a mini version of a temple. The mini version of the temple (I’m sorry, I don’t know the name of this building >.<) is usually as high as a human figure and usually has a hole with a roof on top of it, or a small umbrella made of fabrics (usually the motif is black and white plaid), in order to protect the offerings from rain.

The mini temple is placed in the front yard of a building or a place, and the body part of it (the pillar) is usually covered up with a black-and-white plaid or yellow sarong. The black-and-white plaid motif symbolized dualism in life, such as good and evil, brightness and darkness, as well as men and women. Between black and white is grey, between afternoon and night is sunset, while there is gay between male and female :p The yellow sarong has another meaning. It aims to protect the secrecy and purity of the temple, and it’s also a protection from any bad intentions.

Mini Temple for Balinese Offerings Set

Because of its very religious society and its numbers of Hindus temples, Bali is called as the “Island of a Thousand Puras (Temples)”, or the “Island of the Gods”.


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