Mur is 16 years old and has been dutifully carrying out her task as a tukang banten since she was ten years old. She sets about her daily ritual of giving offerings to the Gods at 9am or 3pm, depending on her school schedule. Also, Mur told me that when she is menstruating she has to give her job to another family member.
“I go to four locations,” Mur told me. “First I start with the temple in my family compound, then I walk to the rice field and place the next offering in a small candi. Next I go to the Mangku’s temple in my village and then I finish at this villa,” she explained. Mur’s journey takes two hours.
She makes the offerings herself at home and showed me her simple canang. “When we have auspicious days like the new moon, the full moon, Galungan and other special days, I make a more elaborate offering, which is called an Ajumam. This offering must have banana, rice, peanuts and shredded and cooked coconut,” Mur explained.
Before she sets out on her rounds, Mur lights the incense in the kitchen and then walks (or rather glides) to the family temple and places the first offering, sprinkles it with holy water and then performs ayaban, with the incense which she described to me as, “Connecting with God and speaking through the heart.” Her message to God is to ask for happiness, good health and to positively confirm that all is good and peaceful.
I was curious to know if she must enter a zone of silence or keep a certain presence of mind for these two hours a day. “Oh no,” Mur replied, “It’s quite alright for me to talk with people, but when I am performing ayaban with the incense people can talk to me, but I will not reply.”
Mur’s elder sister is 19 years old and works in a hotel, so she gave her role over to Mur a few years ago. When Mur graduates from high school and moves on with a career or study, she will pass this duty on to her younger sister, who is already nine years old.
I was very taken with Mur’s calm and peaceful energy and could not help but reflect on the graciousness and inner peace she emits, which surely must be a reflection of the six years she has spent practicing this very beautiful act of giving almost every day of her life.
Offerings are gifts to the Gods which express gratitude to benevolent spirits and as well, they serve to placate mischievous demons who disturb the harmony of life. These shadow world inhabitants of Bali are treated as honoured guests through this act of offering. The offerings must always be attractive. Once an offering is used, it may not be used again, so each and every day, new ones must be made. Offerings to the Gods and ancestors are placed in high altars while the demons receive theirs at ground level.