Kejawen: Local Belief in Indonesia

Gambar oleh Benjamin Balazs dari Pixabay

Kejawen is an ethnic group on the island of Java. Kejawen philosophy is based on religious teachings adhered to by philosophers from Java. In public opinion, it contains Javanese art, culture, traditions, rituals, attitudes and philosophies (Bertapa). The followers usually do not consider this as religion like monotheistic religion, for instance Islam and Christian.

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This culture emerged as a process of mixture of beliefs

This culture emerged as a process of mixture of beliefs. It often be influenced by other religions, yet it is not a problem. Because, they see it as an insight and if it’s a good teachings, then why not?

This belief upholds the oneness of God. The Javanese philosophy usually develops in line with the religion of its followers. So that it became known the terminology of Islam Kejawen, Hindu Kejawen, Buddhist Kejawen, and Christian Kejawen. Where the followers of each of these sects will continue to carry out the Javanese customs and culture that are not against the religion they adhere to.

Why is this belief not considered as a relgion? Although there are real evidence of its adherents. This issue caused some problems, some of the local beliefs in Indonesia are marginalized and had to choose other religion in their National Identity Card. Because there are only six official religions in Indonesia: Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddha, and Confucianism.

There was a case, not far from Ario Penangsang’s ground, in the village of Jipang, Cepu, Blora Regency, which is fed by Bengawan Sore, a church was built. It seems that the villagers used to be followers of the local belief, Kejawen. In 1965, the New Order government was born. A new provision has come out to include religion on the National
Identity Card (KTP).

Because, if they don’t choose any religion in their Identity Card, they’ll be considered as PKI, which is a communist party that is extremely forbidden in Indonesia. Anyone who participated will be punished cruelly. It made some people with local beliefs hardly accept
to put a different religion they believe in their Identity Card.

Indonesia has many diversity in cultures, religions, and local language

At this moment, perhaps the followers of local beliefs are reducing. Because, these local beliefs aren’t missionary religion, and used to be spreaded generation-to-generation. They are not focusing on gaining new believers. Instead, it focused on preserving their culture and rituals.

Ancestors of some Ethnic had actually praticed several religious rituals before other religions emerged in Indonesia. But, after those religions came to Indonesia the local beliefs were marginalized and used to be seen as “kafir” or heathen and often be discriminated and underestimated.

Indonesia has many diversity in cultures, religions, and local language. How can we live side by side in a country with various diversity peacefully if there is lack in tolerance? People have to open their eyes and stop thinking that other beliefs than theirs are misguided. It is a must to learn about other beliefs before judging.

For instance, Kejawen. This belief upholds The Oneness of God. Kejawen itself is a culture that has a main teaching, namely building manners or rules in a good life. The followers of this belief uphold tolerance to others and manners. Which is very good, because good manners is expensive. It is not easy to build a good manner knowing that this action has to be taken since kid.

Let’s not forget that others consideration needs to be tolerated, especially knowing that Indonesia has diversity in many aspects. Kejawen is marginalized, although basically they were the origin of a thought “believe in spirituals” before those official religions came to Indonesia. Raise the awareness that not all beliefs outside the officials are misguided. Respect others in order to live in peaceful environment.

Writer:  Andi Sarah M. A.
Student of Sampoerna University