I Nengah Sura Astika, 55, has been a Hindu priest for 15 years, following a family tradition. The father of two shared his day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.
I wake up around 5.30am, just a bit before sunrise. The first thing I think of is God. According to our Hindu beliefs, this is one of the best moments of the day. We have three good moments in Bali: sunset, midday and sunset. That’s what we call the Tri Sandya and they are the best times to pray.
I wash my face and then I pray for about 15 minutes to half an hour. I live in a three-storey house and my third floor is for the family temple and the praying process. I can see the sunshine up there. My wife joins me sometimes. After that I do some stretching and yoga in the garden for about an hour and then I cool down and have my breakfast around 8. I have a Western breakfast as I used to work in a hotel, so I got used to it. I have some tea, without milk or sugar, and some bread with jam and margarine.
I then take a shower while my wife prepares the daily offerings. She makes 120 offerings every day, and we put 40 in our house. They contain coconut leaves and some rice or bread – we offer what we have in our meal – and flowers.
Then it’s time to go to my tile factory, where we make terracotta for floors and tiles. I call that my kitchen as that’s where I get the money from. It takes me 10 minutes to get there by motorbike. My wife usually comes with me and we both put the offerings around the factory. If I’m busy and can’t do it then she will. I check on the workers and see what they need to support the production process.
We also have a special day every five days and the offerings must be greater. The usual canang offering is for positive energy but every five days we offer the segehan offering for the negative energy. This is to balance positive and negative energy. Positive and negative energies are both important. For example, electricity has negative and positive energy but it’s only when it’s balanced that the light will work. So that’s what we do. We place most of the offerings at the temple, some on the floor too. The segehan goes on the floor.
On full moons the offering is even more special as full moon brings prosperity to everybody. We offer the daxina – it’s a bigger offering and has coconut, egg, rice, special flowers. We don’t put 40 in our house but five pieces. They go on the special altar I have at home.
At midday I pick up my grandchildren from school and take them home. I play with them and we spend time together. I have lunch around 2, anything with rice, like nasi campur.
After that I might have appointments with people that need to talk about their problems. I give the community moral support. I do that with anyone who needs help but especially with my community in Tabanan. Sometimes people ask me to do ceremonies. I do this in people’s family temple and the most important thing is to connect them with their ancestors through their offerings. Every month each family has a little ceremony but every six months or every year they do a big ceremony to celebrate the birthday of the temple. It’s called odalan. I also do services in village as well as in the public temples. I pray with a special mantra and ring a bell while I pray. The bell helps us to focus our souls.
It takes me two or three hours if I do the ceremony in a small temple and up to five hours if I do it in a big temple. I get home around 8 or 9pm and go to my special holy room, where I talk to God. I tell him what I’ve done in the ceremony. I’m fortunate to be a priest because I have more time and a greater chance of getting close to God.
I then have some dinner with my family and spend some time with them watching TV. If I have time I will read holy books and then I will lie in bed and use my genitri – it’s a praying tool. I pray until I feel so relaxed that I fall asleep.