If you pay a visit to temple or are conducting spiritual tour, do not be surprised if you find a Balinese traditional cake (jaja) assembled with a unique decoration. The cake of various shapes, sizes and colors arranged nicely describes the nature of life in the world. It is not a presentation of pure art, but a ritual means for Hindu community in Bali called sarad.
I Kadek Satria, a lecturer at the Faculty of Hinduism and Culture in the Hindu University of Indonesia (Unhi), said that sarad was ritual paraphernalia in the higher level symbolizing the rwa bhineda or basic dualism. It was made from flour batter in such a way so that the ingredients symbolizing the nature. The use of flour as the smallest part of rice had the meaning as seriousness of devotion.
The flour batter was kneaded and then shaped in accordance with the content of this world. There were celestial bodies like the sun, moon, and stars. Similarly, there were also human being with all activities, plants like flowering plants, large trees, medicinal trees and other small trees as well as two-legged animal, one-leg animal and animals having more legs. It was also described the heavenly life like the angles.
According to Kadek Satria, not all Hindu ceremonies in Bali used the sarad cake. The cake made like kayonan (mountain) was specially made for a grandiose ritual like padudusan agung used to purify nature. “It resembles kayonan as an aesthetic element symbolizing tattva (philosophy). Kayon is the beginning of story and literature,” he said.
Sarad was made by a particular person or artisan of the offerings. Meanwhile, the colors in use were adjusted the diverse colors of nature. In a grandiose ceremony, like padudusan agung, it was usually installed three days before the event or after the preparation of tawur offerings. Many people also installed it by consensus of the committee or in appropriate with the situation.
In the mapedudus ritual, it was presented along with sate tunggeh or sate tegeh. Afterward, the satay was then arranged to resemble how the sarad cake was prepared, but all the ingredients were made from pork. The satay was arranged in such a way and had a meaning. At the bottom, there was a pig’s head as a symbol of rajas (preservation).
Sate tunggeh symbolized rajas while sarad symbolized sattva (creation). With the balance of sattva and rajas, the ritual was considered to be successful and ended properly. Behind the sate tunggeh was usually put different types of offerings such as bagia pala kerti and penyegjeg symbolizing the content of nature presented by devotees to God.
Kadek Satria said the philosophy of sate tunggeh was actually describing human life where it was completed with three qualities affecting the human life itself known as tri gunas consisting of sattva (creation), rajas (preservation) and tamas (destroyer). Each guna existed in every human being, so that they were symbolized in the offerings. “By balancing sattva, rajas and tamas, it is believed that people can have reunion with God,” he explained.
Kadek Satria affirmed that when sattva, rajas and tamas attained balance, it would result in a good citta (heart, mind). “Here, we will be in balance called citta wretti nirodha, which means that with a balanced mind we attain happiness,” he said. (BTN/015)
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