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Page 4

Woman of Mas

in faint light of morning

a woman of Mas sits kneeling

a kind gentle soul absorbed in her task

making the morning offering.

a movement she is startled

and caught unaware

ibu, mother it’s so long since I’ve seen you.

come closer my child, she softly whispers my name

I lower my head for my eyes speak my shame

I have thought of you often my little anak

the years have flown by and now you are back.

for you are a child of Bali

so you will never be free

because your heart will form a longing

wherever you may be for warmth and sea breezes

volcano’s and palms

“mother kiss me, I am home.”


Early morning, every morning, every day of the year, before she does anything else, a woman from every compound in Bali goes to the family shrine to make the ritual of the morning offering. The offering is a combination of food, flowers and incense; these are placed in a small woven container and then sprinkled with holy water. It is an offering made to the gods to help keep things in balance, an appeasement made in the never-ending battle of good and evil. The offerings are made to honour the spirits and at the same time safeguard the family and the community, of which they are intrinsically a part.

The Balinese believe in a universe of fantasy and realism. The gods live high above Gunung Agung. They think of the gods as people, divine and earthly at the same time. All the various gods are in reality manifestations of the one god, Sanghyang Widi, the creator of the universe.

Offerings are made continually; a feast to which the gods are invited. The offerings have become the central theme in this system of ritual obligation. A Balinese is inextricably bound to the community; an individual and a group are one and the same. The correct execution of ritual offering is made to keep their universe in balance, in a world where everything is in contrast, like night and day, male and female, night and day; harmony must be maintained. A virtuous life enables a good rebirth into the same family. The ultimate is promotion to Nirvana in the next rebirth. If you lead an unvirtuous life you may be born into a lower creation, perhaps a frog or a moth.

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