You know those huge offerings of fruit that women carry to the temple in Bali – those are called gebogan (g’bogan). Basically, they are arrangements of fruit, colourful flowers, cooked chicken, small rice pyramids, grated coconut, roasted peanuts and sweet cakes stacked on top of one another, forming cylindrical towers. These objects are not always combined together, however, and you will often find gebogan made up of either just flowers or fruit, depending on the purpose. The offerings are attached to a banana tree trunk by sharp bamboo skewers. The base of a gebogan can be either a wooden dulang or a metal bokor which support the weight of the tower. Coconut-leaf decorations, known as sampian, ornament the top of the offerings.
Gebogan can be very tall and in some ceremonies reach up to more than one and a half metres. Balinese women carry gebogan to the temples on their heads which, due to their height and weight, is no mean feat. You will also see women carry gebogan in a procession called mepeed, when special sacred objects are carried to the temple to be blessed. Once they reach the temple, incense sticks are put in the gebogan and are blessed by the priests. Then everyone prays and the gebogan are offered to the gods.
Once all the rituals are over, the gebogan are taken home and the food is shared amongst family and friends. Since food spoils quickly in the tropics, it is either consumed straight away or given away to visitors. If you ever visit Balinese post-ceremony time, they will surely offer you fruit and cakes which come straight off a gebogan.
Traditionally, gebogan only served as offerings to God and were symbolic of all that is found in nature. These days, however, gebogan also function as decorations or ornaments for hotels, parties, special occasions, just like ornamental bamboo poles (penjor).
Copyright@ Kulture Kid 2005
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