Anton Muhajir, The Jakarta Post, Karangasem | Fri, 03/20/2009 1:12 PM | Bali
This year, there is no imported fruit on the gebogan (fruit platter served as an offering) prepared by Kadek Andariani during ceremonies to celebrate the Balinese Hindu holiday of Galungan in Karangasem.
In the past, Andariani would have picked imported Guan Juan apples, Sunkist oranges, pears and green grapes for the offerings.
But not now, with the resident of Ngis village in Manggis district going through a financial difficulties of her own: The closure of the Karangasem Development Cooperative (KKM). Police raided the cooperative office on Feb. 20, just a month before Galungan, which fell on Wednesday.
“This year, local fruit should be enough, just as long as there is a fruit offering,” she said.
Also experiencing a similar situation was Andariani’s neighbor, I Gede Bendesa. He usually bought 2 kilograms of imported fruit for Rp 20,000 (US$1.67) per kilogram.
“It’s OK if the fruit is more expensive. It’s for praying,” he argued.
But now the fruit used in the gebogan consist of local oranges, salak (snake fruit) and rambutan (hairy fruit).
Andariani and Bendesa are just two of some 72,000 members of the KKM, which turned out to be running nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. The co-op offered an astronomical interest rate of 150 percent per year for all deposits.
Bali Police have arrested KKM director Gede Putu Kertia and manager I Nengah Wijanegara, as well as confiscated assets worth some Rp 302.68 billion from total investments of some Rp 604.22 billion.
The members, however, have yet to get their funds back.
“Thanks to the KKM’s closure we are now in a financial crisis,” Bendesa said.
An elementary school teacher, Bendesa said he had invested Rp 20 million, while his wife had put in Rp 6.5 million of her own.
Andariani lost a smaller amount, Rp 5 million, but it was still a considerable loss for the chicken farmer.
“I was planning to buy my family a motorcycle, but now I’ve lost the money,” she said.
Not only have families here had to cut back on fruit – they have also had to reduce their consumption of pork during the Penampahan ritual, held Tuesday.
“Usually I buy some Rp 200,000 worth of pork, but now Rp 100,000 is enough,” Bendesa said.
As for Andariani, this year she bought the meat at the market, while in the past she enjoyed the luxury of jointly slaughtering a pig worth Rp 1.5 million to be distributed among 10 families.
“This year, I only bought 1 kilogram of pork, just enough for the offerings,” she said.