FLOWER occupies a privileged position in the religious practices of Balinese people. Every single offering presented by Balinese always contains canang sari filled with various colorful flowers. Such flowers also make the offerings of Balinese look beautiful and festive.
An author of Hindu religious books, I Ketut Wiana, revealed that flower has very profound meaning. In the Prakerti Yajna palm-leaf manuscript is mentioned that such flowers signified a sacred symbol of mind sincerity.
Wiana himself called that flower has two meanings. Firstly, it is a symbol of God’s blessing. In the Ramayana poetry was told that when the Prince Rama struggled against Ravana, the gods in the sky bestowed the blessing to Rama by showering various and fragrant flowers.
Similarly, the Arjuna Vivaha poetry told that Arjuna meditated on Mount Indrakila and got a severe test of the gods. When facing the temptation on the arrival of Lord Shiva as great warrior, a bitter struggle exploded between Arjuna and the warrior. Arjuna was almost lost out. Once he woke up to fight back, he was showered with flowers signifying that Lord Shiva had blessed his meditation.
Flowers also symbolized the soul and the mind. According to Wiana, the atma or individual soul becoming the source of life is often depicted with flowers in various kinds of religious ceremonies. Flowers also symbolized an expression of feelings and thought. For example, in the funeral ceremony in Bali, when the corpse is carried to cemetery, in the course from the funeral home the flowers known as sekar ura are sprinkled at every intersection. It is a mixture of flower, yellow rice and perforated coin.
“Sekar ura is the epitome of farewell expression to the deceased and those who are still alive. Flowers in the sekar ura represents sincerity to release the deceased who will go to the afterlife realm,” said Wiana.
In a memukur or nyekah ritual, the astral body of people who are given a ritual is symbolized by human figure made of flowers or puspa lingga. It was described in the Ligya and Yama Purwana Tattva palm-leaf manuscript.
Such representation contained blossoming lotus, water lily, calotropis leaf and ficus leaf. Since the flowers were used to make the offerings, they should be well selected, not just flowers of any kind. A number of palm-leaf manuscripts had given instruction and guidance about flowers that should be used for making oblations or praying facilities.
In the Jnana Siddhanta palm-leaf manuscript was mentioned that flowers worth using for making oblation or a means of worship were blooming and endlessly scented flowers. It was also signified if such flowers were used to symbolize holy scripts. Meanwhile, the Shivaratri Kalpa written by Mpu Tanakung mentioned a provision that the flowers used to worship Lord Shiva should be the flowers deliberately picked.
The flowers used for prayer or means of offerings should indeed be clean, pure, fragrant, blooming, fresh and picked directly from the tree. It would be useless to present the offerings if the flowers employed were withered and used flowers. This provision was written in the Tantri Nandaka Arana palm-leaf manuscript. (BTN/kmb)
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