Indigenous Religion is a term used to describe local beliefs and religious traditions that exist in a region. Indigenous people are usually adhered to by residents who are descendants of an area.

In Indonesia, Indigenous Religion also exists in several regions, such as Banten, Java, North Sumatera, etc. Sunda Wiwitan is one of the Indigenous Religion in Indonesia located in Banten. Sunda Wiwitan is a local belief that is adhered to by the Sundanese people, especially those living in the Banten Province.

Based on the International Journal of Research and Review, the teachings of Sunda Wiwitan are found in the Karesian book of Sanghyang Siksakanda, a book that originated from the period of the Sunda kingdom, which offers religious teachings, spiritual guidance, laws, and Hindu character teachings (Rostitawati 168).

Sunda Wiwitan is the religion of ancestors that existed before the entrance of Hinduism to Indonesia. However, over time the faith has merged with several components of Hinduism and some Islamic teachings. Like common religion, Sunda Wiwitan also believed in the existence of the highest authority or God named Sang Hyang Kersa or Gusti Sikang Sawiji-Wiji.

Based on the International Journal of Research and Review, throughout its development, several Sundanese Wiwitan practices were also affected by several cultures. First, Hindu-Buddhist culture originating from the Indian subcontinent; second, Islamic culture originating from the Arabian Peninsula; third, Javanese culture; fourth, Western culture originating from continental Europe; Fifth, the national culture of the Indonesian homeland (Rostitawati 173).

Although influenced by various cultures, Sunda Wiwitan still has its own identity that is intrinsic in its adherents.

What happens to Indigenous Religions in Indonesia?

Although there are many local beliefs in Indonesia, those religions often suffer discrimination and even is unrecognized by the country and the people. Recently there is an issue that Sunda Wiwitan is not allowed to build its graves.

The local government refused the proposal to build the grave because it did not go through procedures such as permits in general, the government considered the objection or rejection from residents, and there is a protest from MUI. By knowing the issues, it is not fair for the local beliefs.

In my opinion, if the Sunda Wiwitan adherents construct their grave, it will not impact other religions. Religion is one of the human rights, so people are free to choose which religions they want to have. If people do not accept religion, then it can be claimed that it violates human rights.

Moreover, the local beliefs is a heritage of ancestral religions that already existed. Therefore, it is better if we respect and tolerate the indigenous religions as much as we respect recognized religions.

Local Beliefs Recognition

In the past, local religions did not recognize by the Indonesian government. It may be due to the influence of the spread of major religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism, and Confucianism that spread faster than local beliefs at that time.

In the past, adherents of local religions were required to choose one of the six religions recognized for filling in the religion field on their government ID.

However, over time the government made things a bit easier for indigenous peoples by permitting them to leave the religion field on their government ID blank. Even though now the government has started recognizing local religions, some discrimination still occurs.

Indigenous Religions and the Unique

Each religion has its uniqueness, such as the Kaharingan that is adhered to by the Dayak tribe. It has three versions of the name of God, which are distinguished by the name of the region. The second is Marapu that comes from the island of Sumba, is always slaughter animals such as cows and horses as sacrifices when performing traditional ceremonies.

Third, Sunda Wiwitan, which originated from West Java, in Sundanese teachings, the delivery of prayers are carried out through singing rhymes, songs, and dance movements. Fourth, Malim, whose adherents are from the Batak tribe, according to their teachings, the first humans were not Adam and Eve, but a man named Raja Ihat Manisia and his wife named Boru Ihat Manisia.

The many traditions in local religions are proof that Indonesia has a unique cultural diversity. It is better to know more about local beliefs so that people can learn more about Indonesian culture.

References

  • Indonesia Has Hundreds of Indigenous Religions. So Why Are They Only Being Recognized Now?, www.vice.com/en/article/3kv7py/indonesia-has-hundreds-of-indigenous-religions-so-why-are-they-only-being-recognized-now.
  • Rostitawati, Tita. “Mythology and the belief system of Sunda Wiwitan: a theological review in cisolok of Sukabumi regency of West Java, Indonesia.” International Journal of Research and Review. vol. 7, no. 3, April 2020, pp. 167-173.