Bija, also known as Wija, is basically the white rice worshipers receive after a sequence of prayers that are held mostly after having holy water at temple ceremonies or other Balinese rituals. Sometimes they are colored in yellow by using turmeric and mixed with water to make them sticky. A temple priest or the host of a ritual is normally responsible for preparing the bija itself in a bowl, and then handed to everybody at the end of every prayer at the completion of the event. Bija will then be placed or stuck at some points of the head and throat to carry out their own philosophical meanings. But first of all worshipers choose the best shaped bija to eat and spread the rest on top of their heads before they finish the entire session.
Bija has a variety of philosophical meanings. The word bija is derived from the ancient Javanese language adopted from Sanskrit “Vija” which is still related to the word “Pranava” or ”Om” which are the most sacred names for God. People with bija are indicating that they worship God and are expected to behave under God’s direction.
Anatomically, bija also has different meanings. The human body has seven chakras that are linked to our nervous system and balances energy flows. Putting bija between eyebrows is an indication of the activation of the jnana chakra that is responsible for maintaining our body fitness. Perfectly shaped bija also symbolizes Lingga or the universe as the source of life itself. Bija also signifies an awareness or realization as a reminder to everybody to use it to behave respectfully among human beings and Mother Nature.
Each region in Bali has their own style of applying bija, but generally putting bija has five basic rules;
- Crown Chakra – Strengthens atma or human soul
- Between Eyebrows, – Worships Ciwa (the highest or the leader of Hindu’s Gods)
- Throat – Strengthens Kundalini (7 chakras)
- Neck – Protection from bad luck
- Behind Ears – Controls the five senses
Beside these five basic rules, sometimes putting bija on the chest brings prosperity and happiness. The ones eaten means planting seeds to have a source of new life, receive forgiveness from the God Almighty and hope that the future will flourish as desired. *BB-RM*