On Monday we were invited to assist the VSO office with making penjor. Penjor is a traditional Balinese decoration used for the celebration of Galungan. The penjor is a tall, curved bamboo pole decorated with coconut leaves with an offering at the base. The penjor is believed to symbolize the mountain and the mountain itself is the symbol of the universe according to Balinese culture. Therefore, for the Balinese the penjor is synonymous with Mount Agung, the highest and holiest mountain in Bali.
The aim of erecting penjors at Galungan is to show devotion to God in His manifestation as Hyang Giri Pati (the God of the mountain). During Galungan celebrations, each family erects a penjor outside their gate, which makes the whole neighborhood look splendid.
The basic material of a penjor is a curved bamboo pole. The pole is then decorated with yellow coconut leaves, pala bungkah (roots - sweet potato or cassava), pala gantung (fruit - cucumbers, oranges, bananas), pala wija (cereal - rice, corn), plawa (leaves), traditional cakes, 11 Chinese coins, and a small shrine with some offerings.
All materials for a penjor constitute peoples' basic needs, signifying that we should take care of those things.