A Cup of the Javanese Please

Michael McAlister Blog 1 Comment

The Guardian’s John Pitcher offers some expat insight on Indonesian religious tolerance:

Where a church is used for the initial wedding ceremony Muslim family members sit with Christians or, if they feel uncomfortable, they sit outside near the door and join in that way; all, regardless of formal religious faith are Javanese and what binds them is something much more powerful than any monotheist belief. It is what brings us all together for Selamatans (ceremonies), especially those for births and for the marking of the stages of different aspects of the life of a child, the mystic protection of an adult, or the building of a house. When the person leading the prayer section of a selamatan is a Christian the Muslims sit quietly and respectfully as the prayers are said. The other way round and the Christians do the same.

Comments 1

  1. Pamposh Dhar

    I lived 3 years in Jakarta and found the Javanese attitude to religion truly inspiring. Javanese culture is open and accepting of differences and of different paths to God. Religious faith in Java is practised with this same attitude.

    Not only do people of different faiths celebrate (and mourn)together, which is great, they sometimes are also quite astonishingly knowledgeable about faiths other than their own. Being a Hindu (and an Indian) by birth, I was sometimes quite embarrassed by my own limited knowledge of the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha compared with that of my Javanese Muslim friends!

    One of these frineds, a Haji twice over, explained it to me thus: Islam is my faith, but the stories of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana (which form the basis of Indonesia’s famous puppet theatre) are part of my culture.

    In these days of Islamist extremism, the gentle and beautiful Islamic faith of Indonesians can serve as an example of tolerance to us all. It is a pity we hear so little about the way Islam is practised in the world’s most populous Muslim country. It is equally a pity that the old, tolerant ways appear to be under some threat by imported, violent ideas in Indonesia itself. I hope the threat is small and will be overcome by the goodwill and good sense of most Indonesians.

    Bring on that cup of Javanese!

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