The Balinese and their love for coconuts

Of all the nuts available in Bali, the coconut is hands-down the most favoured nut on the island. The Balinese often use coconuts in their daily lives, from ceremonies to a cooking ingredient, to serving up an excellent whole coconut as a refreshing drink to tackle a hot day.

The coconut is a widely cultivated fruit in Indonesia, as all over the country, there is always a supply of coconut trees. In Bali, coconut trees are everywhere, from farms to the inland and coast. The coconut’s ubiquity has made it an essential fruit in the lives of the Balinese, where the entire coconut tree is used for different purposes.

Let’s start with the fruit itself. Coconuts are famous for their refreshing and nutritious water. Coconut water is high in potassium and sugar, which makes it a great drink to quench thirst. In Bali, coconut water is often believed to have spiritual cleansing powers; therefore, it is used in purification ceremonies. The young green coconut is a favourite for making a cool drink known as es kelapa muda. It’s basically the flesh of the coconut submerged in coconut water and sometimes a little palm sugar.

The older fruits, which are yellow and brown, also have their purpose. Yellow coconuts are often used in ceremonies as the water can be used for purification and as a basis for holy water. Brown coconut shells can be used for kindling, while the fibres can be used to make rope or other crafts. Coconut shells also make fun toys for children! Aside from drinks and toys, people also extract coconut oil for many uses by creating it into cooking, perfume, or massage oil.

Now, let’s get onto the leaves. Coconut leaves are an integral part of Balinese religious life, as a majority of offerings are made with coconut leaves. Young green coconut leaves are used for a wide variety of offerings, from the small canang to the larger penjor, whereas old leaves can be used to build ceremonial structures. Old coconut leaves are also used to make baskets that men carry around their roosters or chickens.

Last but not least, the trunks of the coconut tree (or as the Balinese say) are valuable timber. Timber from coconut trees can be used in construction, arts and crafts, and many other areas.

The coconut tree has many uses in Balinese life, so it’s no surprise that the Balinese love their coconuts!