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.