Dhamma delight

The penjor helps Bali's most important religious festival dazzle with colour

Celebrated throughout the island of Bali once every 210 days, Galungan marks the beginning of Bali's most important religious ceremony. Symbolising the victory of good over evil, Galungan lasts for 10 days and means "When the dhamma is winning".

During this holiday the Balinese gods visit the Earth and leave on Kuningan, the last day of the holiday.

During Galungan, it is believed that the deified ancestors of the family descend to their former homes. According to the Balinese tradition, they must be entertained and welcomed. Prayers and offerings are to be made for them.

To welcome their gods and ancestors, the Balinese erect tall bamboo poles splendidly decorated with fresh, pendants of woven young coconut leaves, fruit, cakes and flowers called penjor on the right side of every house entrance.

This makes Galungan one of the most beautiful festivals in Asia as the streets of every village are adorned with thousands and thousands of the penjor.

Inspired by the traditional penjor of Bali, I created today's contemporary penjor using busung, or young coconut fronds, crown flowers and dendrobium orchids. To begin, I cut coconut fronds about 25cm long. Then about 2cm down from each end, I cut the leaf straight to the centre spine of the fronds, but leaving the spine untouched. I continue to rip both sides of green off from the spine. I prepare eight fronds this way.

Then with a thick styrofoam sheet as a base and a wooden peg, I carefully push all the coconut fronds through that wooden peg; one by one at its centre and off to one side of the centre spine so as to not break or cut the centre spine.

I lay one coconut frond over the other turning them open like a Japanese fan. After that, I proceed to stitch them all together with bamboo slivers to form a complete circle.

I then decorate an end of a frond with a crown flower, alternating it with a blossom of dendrobium orchid at the end of the following frond until completion. Then I attach a blossom of dendrobium orchid to the centre of the foliage circle. And now our contemporary penjor is ready to be hung.

STEP-BY-STEP

1. Cut coconut fronds about 25cm long.

 2. About 2cm down from both ends of the coconut fronds, cut the leaf straight to the center spine of the fronds, but leave the center spine untouched.

3. Rip both sides of green off from the spine.

4. Prepare eight fronds this way.

5. Then with the help of a thick styrofoam sheet as a base and a wooden peg, carefully push all the coconut fronds through the wooden peg. Lay one coconut frond over the other and turn them open like a Japanese fan.

6. Stitch all the fronds together with bamboo slivers to form a complete circle.

7. Decorate the ends of the fronds with a crown flower.

8. Alternate with a blossom of dendrobium orchid at the end of the following frond and repeat until finished. Attach a blossom of dendrobium orchid to the centre of the foliage circle. Then the contemporary penjor is ready to be hung.

Sakul Intakul is an internationally renowned Thai floral artist whose portfolio includes commissions for HM the Queen and conceptual designs for Bvlgari Hotels and Resorts in Bali. He can be reached at sakulintakul@yahoo.com or by visiting www.sakulintakul.com. Enter his wonderful world of flowers at www.facebook.com/ fansofsakulintakul.

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