Translated from German, Zeitgeist means "the spirit of the moment", and is the key principle underpinning AYANA's service philosophy. Here, we share our inside tips and favorite haunts to help you experience the AYANA Zeitgeist.
I Made Madra, one of the 24 members of AYANA's Hindu Committee, led a ceremony at AYANA on 10, 11 and 12 October, to mark the resort temple’s anniversary. All Balinese-Hindu staff took part in this sacred 3-day ceremony, which included a parade, dancing and competition for the best gebogan (offering) which was won by Dava restaurant (AYANA's fine-dining venue).
What was the reason for the temple ceremony?
Every Hindu temple has a yearly ceremony, you can compare it to the birthday of a person. Ever since the temple was built in 1996, this ceremony has taken place every year, so you can say that this was the temple's 15th birthday. The ceremony's function is to bless the hotel and the people who work and stay at AYANA.
What exactly happens during the ceremony?
The ceremony takes three days in total. The first day is a preparation day also called "nanceb", when all the decorations and offerings are created and everything is set-up. The second day is the day the big ceremony takes place also known as "odalan", when all Hindu-employees wear their traditional Hindu attire and bring their families. The third day is the clean-up which is called "ngelukar". Most of us try to attend all three days, but you can probably imagine that it is very hard for AYANA's 763 Hindu employees to all be there every day. It is not compulsory to join the ceremony but basically every Hindu makes the time as it’s a very important day.
Is there a head of the temple? A priest?
Yes the AYANA temple has a female priest. The Mangku (priest) was chosen by the owner of AYANA, Rudy Suliawan, back in 1996. She was a friend of Pak Rudy before AYANA was built and helped him to choose a good piece of land to build the resort on. After the resort was opened, Pak Rudy decided to make her the Mangku of the temple. The Mangku is also the one that receives the honor to name the temple, and she named it Giri Wangi (Giri means mountain and Wangi means smile in Balinese).
Is it possible for Hindus to be members of more than one temple?
Yes it is possible to belong to more than one temple, almost every Hindu also has a family temple and a smaller temple or shrine at home (pelinggih). In the end we all honor the same god, it doe not matter in which temple we do that. We only have one god however our god makes his appearance as many different spirits: Vishnu, Siwa, Brahma and more. In total there are 33 spirits in the Balinese Hindu religion.
March 5 is Balinese New Year, otherwise known as Nyepi, or the ‘Day of Silence’. This is a very important date on our Balinese Hindu calendar, as it involves an island-wide purification. Some tourists avoid Bali at Nyepi time because of the restrictions placed on movement around the island during the 24-hours of silence, but I think it is a fantastic time to be here, an opportunity to experience many colorful festivals and ceremonies and learn a lot about our culture.
Nyepi is marked by 24 hours of silence, a day of introspection when everyone in Bali must stay inside their residence and keep quiet. No vehicle or machinery is allowed to operate (which also means Bali airport closes down on this day each year), no fire or electricity may be used, no work may be done. All shops and businesses will close and the whole island will literally ‘play dead’ from dawn on March 5 until dawn on March 6. The idea is that the demons who inhabit Bali will be fooled into thinking the island has been abandoned, and will go elsewhere, like Lombok or Java. A little sneaky of us perhaps!
For tourists, the rules are more relaxed, as long as you do not leave your hotel. AYANA minimizes use of lighting and power, halts its shuttle service, and asks guests not to wander around outside or leave the property. However, otherwise guests are welcome to use the resort grounds and facilities as normal, while keeping noise to a minimum.?
It is an interesting time to be in Bali, because in the days leading up to Nyepi, you will have the opportunity to witness some unique aspects of Balinese culture. These include the preparation and parade of ‘ogoh-ogoh’, large papier mache statues of various things, ranging from skeletons to monsters.
The night before Nyepi, you will see villagers all over the island parading ‘ogoh-ogoh’ through the streets and making a lot of noise with a marching rhythm band, as they spin the monsters around in circles. This is like the last ‘hurrah’ before the island shuts down on the following day, for the period of silence.
At AYANA, our Guest Activities team is busy creating two ogoh-ogoh dolls: one is a 2.5-meter-high figure of Hanoman, the famed monkey general, fighting a demon, while the second is a smaller 1.5-meter-high figure specially created for children. Tomorrow on Nyepi Eve, a priest will bless the ogoh-ogoh dolls and then we will parade them together with our guests, through the resort grounds, as we try to wake up the demons before we go to bed and ‘play dead’ for 24-hours. Hopefully our trick works and we can rid Bali of any evil spirits lurking about!