Religion – Unrecognized Local Beliefs in Nusantara

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Indonesia is one of the biggest multi-cultural country that has thousands of tribes, traditional languages, and cultures. Moreover, Indonesia has many traditional religions or what so-called Nusantara Religions other than the six acknowledge religions (Buddha, Islam, Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Confucianism). Nowadays, some of the Nusantara Religions are still exist even though they are not officially acknowledged by the government.

Baca juga: Religion – Kejawen and Philosopical Values.

Nusantara Religions were existing before the present of the first “imported” religion in Indonesia. Each of them is unique and have both historical and religious values. Therefore, learn about them is such an interesting experience.

Here are 7 Nusantara Religions in Indonesia that still exist today.

Sunda Wiwitan

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Sunda Wiwitan is a religion originally from Banten, Indonesia. Sunda Wiwitan worship karuhun spirit or their ancestors (Permana 37). Wiwitan means origin, principal, beginning, first. Thus, Sunda Wiwitan in story of Parahiyangan was called as Sunda true identity. The principal of Sunda Wiwitan contained in Sanghyang Siksakanda ng Karesian, a book from Sunda empire that contain religious teaching and moral guidance. A local elder in Cikeusik, Banten said that Sunda Wiwitan is an animism religion that worship the spirits of their ancestors (Wahid 2). However, this belive has been infused with elements of Hinduism and Islam.

Sunda Wiwitan has a tradition named Seren Taun celebration which being celebrated every Sundanese new year. Seren Taun celebration also celebrating rice harvest season. The celebration usually filled with dance and sing with pantun.


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Kejawen is a religion originally from Java. Kejawen is a Javanese believe that came from many religions in Java (Kusuma 3). Kejawen acknowledge and worship God, but it also acknowledges mystiques from other religions. Therefore, the teachings of Kejawen are universal and attached side by side with the religion adhered to in his day.

Kejawen means “everything connected to Javanese culture and believes.” The main principle of Kejawen is about manner. People of Java considered Kejawen not as a religion but as a guidance and values along with prayer. Kejawen is filled with art, culture, tradition, ritual, and philosophy of Javanese.


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Kaharingan is a religion originally of Dayak tribe in Borneo. Kaharingan means growth or life. Kaharingan has become religion of Dayak since before Hindu arrived in Indonesia. In Kaharingan, people believe that God is live hereditary among us (Ranying Hatalla Langit). Dayak people also worship their ancestor spirits because they believe that their ancestor is protecting their children and grandchildren whom still live in this world (Dewi 49). They also believe that every object has a soul or spirit and they believe in magic as well.

Worship place for Kaharingan is Balai Basarah or Balai Kaharingan. Their holy books are Panaturan and other religious books such as Talatah Basarah and Tawur.

Nowadays, every Dayaks are required to have religions that recognized officially in Indonesia. Therefore now, this religion is change to become part of Hindu and was named Hindu Kaharingan. However, not all Dayaks adhere to Hindu. Some of them are Muslims.

Why does the state not recognize Nusantara religion?

Nusantara religion existed before foreign religions entered Indonesia. However, when foreign religions entered Indonesia, traditional religions began to be marginalized. During the colonial period, the only religions that were recognized were those of the upper classes; and most of the upper classes adhere to foreign religions such as Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Therefore, only these religions are officially recognized. Currently, Nusantara religion is not recognized because it is considered as a religion of animism and dynamism and is considered illegal.

This condition causes people who adhere to the Nusantara religion have difficulties when making identity cards (KTP). They have to write the religion they don’t profess on their identity cards. However, in 2019, the government made concessions by allowing followers of Nusantara religions to write “Belief in God” in their identity card.

Writer: Jason dharma
Student Of Sampoerna University