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Friday, March 11, 2016

Offerings

A song in Indonesian and English named Offerings (Persembahan Persembahan) which opens and closes with the canang sari, palm leaf offering in Bali, and includes a different type of local offering - intentional and destructive - and mythical figures galore.

Youtube video of Offerings 

Origin of this song


The idea for the song had been on my mind and I'd shared it with a few local musicians, one being a rapper from Flores. Ketut Artana has been our long distance driver for more than two years now. He and his family were at our wedding. He'd taken me on a Sunday morning to join with the crowd walking around the perimeter of a large public park. We ended up at the Hari Krishna tent drinking bubur poridge and grooving on their chanting and music. He, his wife, and I went to the Buddhist temple in Seminyak one eve to meditate with a Burmese monk there. Monday night we'll go to a nearby Buddhist place to meditate. Ketut knows plenty of English but we speak almost entirely Indonesian. If not I'd get someone else. I spend a lot of time at home and when I get out want to deal with people who speak Indonesian as much as possible. Near the end of June, Ketut drove me to Singaraja, the old capital and 2nd most populace city about four hours north. Destination a Buddhist temple there for a ten day retreat. On the way I pestered him about how to say this and that. We stopped for some fruit.

I asked him, "What's that called again/"

"Canang sari." (pronounced chanang sari)

"Oh yeah. I forget."

"And this flower?"

"Gumitir."

"Marigold in English."

(Weird to use quotes when it's just a translation from the Indonesian)

I'd forgotten what marigold was too. So I made a sentence: "Ada gumitir di dalam canang sari."
(There's a marigold in the palm leaf offering). "Right?"

"Right."

Good. So I started saying it over and over as we drove off. Then started singing it. Just that one line four times. Soon he joined me. We sang it over and over.

Ten days later Ketut was waiting for me when the retreat was over. A few others joined us to get rides back south. As soon as he started the car and was driving off I sang that line and we sang it over and over till I worried that it might be irritating to our fellow passengers. Then I realized that that would be a perfect fit and a perfect opening for the song I had in mind, one which compared all the offerings people make here to their plastic trash as another type of offering with powerful results. Back home got out the guitar and soon it was done. Checked the Indonesian with a few locals and changed a few words. But the first ones were done with Ketut, my co-author.

See the film, Trashed, about the global problem. Kartika Soekarno, daughter of former great president Soekarno (Sukarno) showed it to Indonesian president Jokowi Widodo.

First wrote about this song idea here on January 31, 2015