As I said, I know. It was not a miss-spelling. Biyu in the Balinese language means banana. This kind of tropical fruit plays important role in the Balinese offering. It is a ‘must be there’ element of an offering. When the question comes to why is banana? Banana can be found ultra-easily in Bali, all year long, it grows easily also in Bali soil. If your back yard is wide enough, you can plant a sapling and get the fruit the next six months. Otherwise, you can find it easily in the traditional market with a lot of different types. Every part of banana (plant) is useful, its root can be used as one of the main ingredient of tum (usually made from minced meat and other stuff that is wrapped individually with banana leaves), Gedebong (a banana stem, especially the young one, can be transformed into spicy ares, the Balinese soup), and the leaves…I do not have to repeat its function. By wrapping food with banana leaves…from rice to fish, will leave a track of distinguished fragrant aroma once we open it. Some kind of Banana that are usually used for offering and (of course) consummated: Biyu raja (king of banana), biyu susu ( banana milk), biyu dang saba (good for banana fritters), biyu mas (golden banana), biyu gadang (green banana-even when it is already ripe) and tasted much like the Cavendish.
Sadly, the existence of local banana is vastly replaced by our neighborhood’s (Java island) products. I am not saying it is threatened…contrary…it does help to fulfill the high need of banana in the Balinese offering making. Local banana becomes the radiance in the stack of ‘imported’ banana. The seller will
put show them proudly in the stalls and announce clearly when a prospective buyer ask the price…”tiga ribu (equal to three cents)…each”. It means, when a bunch is structured by 10 bananas, you have to give away an equivalent of $ 3.00. As sometimes an elaborative traditional ceremony will need hundreds of bananas and much deeper digging into your wallet. If you want to bother yourself, you can count it with the mentioned calculation. For economical reason, many people prefer the not-local banana, (much) cheaper…not counted single but in a bunch and….after all, still it bananas.
Well, cheap or not cheap, we the Balinese, love banana, we need it and even have an old time joke about it. It is started with…some time ago, a tourist and his not so professional guide walked along a village to see the greenery. Coming from four seasons continent, the tourist obviously never seen a banana tree which grows in someone’s yard beside the street. Hanged with its yellow fruit. “Look!” He exclaimed high-spiritedly, “It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful.” The amateur guide nodded calmly and thought…Hey! English is not that hard to learn…you just have to add -tiful after the name of a fruit. Biyu-tiful. Banana fruit. That is simple! Later on, when they arrived in the local market with abundant of tropical fruits, the guide pointed to the piles of mangoes (poh in the Balinese) and snakeskin fruits (salak). He said solemnly to his client, “This, Sir…is poh-tiful and salak-tiful”.