Nowadays, we hardly hear about Indigenous Religion in Indonesia. Indigenous Religion or Local Belief (in Indonesia means kepercayaan) is one of ancestor legacy. However, from time to time, the people who beliefs in kepercayaan start to decline.
Indigenous religions or local beliefs is struggling to maintain their existence and because of pandemic, it is getting harder to see or encounter with indigenous people. This happens because kepercayaan is not categorized as religion. Moreover, if this continue, the Indigenous Religion in Indonesia could extinct.
How Important Local Beliefs to Indonesia
Indigenous Religions or Local Beliefs have an important role in maintaining our cultures and environment. Even though local belief is not the same and not follow the rules of religion – like has prophet or has holy book – local belief is the first religion that Indonesia has before major Religion came to Indonesia.
How can Indigenous Religion not be recognized as one of religion? Cultures in Indonesia is derived from Indigenous Religion, such as the culture of Bataknese is come from Batak Parmalim and the culture of Javanese is come from Kejawen. If the government cannot recognize their existence, how can we keep this culture?
Local belief people help to take care and guard the sacred place in Indonesia. They also help to maintain our environment such as forest and mountain, for example, the Ammatoans of Sulawesi who have succeeded in preserving and protecting their customary forest from deforestation. Although the intention is to protect their sacred place, we cannot deny that they help us to protect our environment from deforestation.
Moreover, many of local belief still do their ritual from time to time. Because of their unique ritual, some of them become tourist attraction. This also help the country to gain more fund for country development. The people who still believing in local belief trust that tradition is important to maintain their existence. Some of them even live deep in the forest and never receive the modern custom.
Right now, the world government made a custom become widely known as entertainment with festival, contest or event that can be watch. Some of the county even made the custom the characteristic of their homeland or territory. In Indonesia, things like festival for Indigenous Religion is very rarely held, just some of place which have a scared place will hold it. Big city will not hold festival like that because their modern thinking, so the place to hold festival is just countryside close to sacred place.
How Local Beliefs is Treated in Indonesia
In Indonesia, the government try to understand their belief and made use that belief to appealing other country. However, until now, Indigenous Religion is not recognized as one of religion.
Since the government views indigenous belief as kepercayaan adat or variant of a recognized religion, they treated differently. They struggle to receive the document for their citizenship. Local beliefs people trouble to receive their rights, such as healthcare, democratic processes, job and education.
On 7th November 2017, Indonesia government made an announcement and new rule which stated that citizen can include or exclude their religion from KTP. This gives more flexibility to Indigenous people. However, this flexibility does not reduce the Indigenous people destress. They still have the same treatment as before, have trouble to receives their right.
In order to survive and get better treatment, these people willingly choose to register their KTP with a recognized religion rather than their belief while still upholding and performing their native belief. Therefore, some of them is obliged to perform the custom of their religion in KTP and over time, they get used to the new custom and forget their original beliefs.
In the modern era, some of religion of indigenous peoples understood in ways that their belief does not qualify to become a religion. For a young blood of native, some of them will move out to the bigger city, such a case make the traditional custom only in the hand of old age. It will make the custom become a decline because no one will continue the custom. In the case of married, they will leave their custom when they get married unless they come from the same belief.
The government should treat Indigenous Religion and their struggle more serious. The local beliefs people struggle to maintain their existence, struggle to maintain our culture but they are treated differently from other religion. Our culture can still be maintained because there are people who believes in local beliefs and still doing the custom and tradition from their beliefs. If someday, all of the local beliefs extinct, maybe, we also forget our past culture.