Local Beliefs in Indonesia

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Pancasila as the basis of Indonesia requires that its people to have a religion. With maritime region, Indonesia has become rich in culture, history, and religion. There are six religions that are officially recognized by the state: Islam, Christian, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucius. However, this does not rule out od possibility of long-standing local before these six major religions were present in Indonesia. Each island has its own culture and beliefs, and this happens because the different in term of geography and the history. Although widely known as a country with a high tolerance among religious people, that does not seems apply to the local religion. The adherents of local beliefs still experience many discriminations even from their own government.

Baca juga: Kejawen Local Belief in Indonesia.

In order to be recognized as a legitimate citizen, each person must have citizen’s card where there is a religion column. Followers of local beliefs must fill the column with one on those six official religions to avoid getting in trouble with the law. But it is not stop there, they also could not practice their religious teachings without scorn from those around them. This is because local beliefs are thought to be far behind and incompatible with the official religion in Indonesia. If religion is a belief and governs human relations with something beyond their power, it should not be the six religions recognized in Indonesia.

The History of Local Beliefs

In the school textbook, it is stated that initially the Indonesian people believed in animism and dynamism. Then with the arrival of the Portuguese and Dutch colonized Indonesia, there began to be replaced with the religion taken by people outside Indonesia such as Islam and Christianity. People today view local belief as a culture rather than a religion. This, later to be the cause of local beliefs are thought to be misleading and far from norms. Local religion also included as one of cultures in Inonesia but most people choose to ignore it and even worse, discriminate the followers.

Starting from the island of Java, we could find several local beliefs such as Kejawen, Madrais, and Sunda Wiwitan.  People from Java still practice traditional rituals until this day even though they claimed their religion is Islam, Hinduism, or other official religion. Kejawen is a spiritual Javanese knowledge in search of correct and good way of life. Meanwhile, Madrais and Sunda Wiwitan are from Sundanese believe in God Almighty also worship of the forces of nature and ancestral spirits. One popular teaching of Madrais among its adherents is “to eat and drink of (their) own sweat.” This means to not easily seek the help from others and working hard for themselves.

Now, we move to Kalimantan that has Kaharingan as the local belief of the Dayak tribe there. Most of adherents of this religion are from people who live deep in the forest of Kalimantan and rural areas. Kaharingan from the word “haring” means life or exist is a belief system includes animism and Hinduism, they believe all things alive in some sense. Nowadays, many have converted to Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism but there are still some people who practices the rituals. In Sumba island, there is also local religion known as Marpu. Most people in Sumba believe in this religion who has religious belief to their ancestors. The practices ceremonies of this religion.

The discrimination felt by local belief followers should not happen. Many historical values are found in their beliefs. Religious tolerance should not limit only the official religions but also the local beliefs that have existed long before those six religions comes. As long as the teaching does not break the rules and laws by the government, peoples should allow the adherents of local beliefs doing their religious practices without fear.

Writer: Syifa Maulidah
Student Of Sampoerna University