Indonesia is an archipelagic country that is full of diversity, such as culture, language, and moreover religion. Are all beliefs such as local beliefs in Indonesia called as religion? How is the condition of the adherents of those local beliefs? Are they discriminated?
Indonesia only recognized 6 religions, there are Islam, Catholic, Protestant, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism (indonesia.go.id). However, not all Indonesian people have belief in those religions. Some of them believe in local beliefs, such as Sunda Wiwitan, Kejawen, Parmalim, Kaharingan, Marapu, Aluk Todolo, and Buhun.
The evolution of local beliefs in the society has accordance with the background of culture, customs, and tradition. Sunda Wiwitan from Banten will be different with Parmalim from Medan because they are from different region with different background.
There are some similarities and differences between recognized religions and local beliefs. People with local beliefs have some rules to obey and prohibition to avoid. They also believe on the almighty. One obvious thing that makes local beliefs different with religions is they do not have the holy book.
As mentioned above, Sunda Wiwitan is one of the local beliefs. Sunda Wiwitan been around and developed before the Hinduism came and spread in Indonesia. The meaning behind its name is Sunda means that it is from Sundanese region, and wiwitan means beginning, first, main (tirtio.id). Sunda wiwitan adhere to the concept of monotheism. The supreme power in Sunda Wiwitan known as Sang Hiyang Keresa (the Almighty) or Nu Ngersakeun (Who Will).
In Sunda Wiwitan, there is a tradition called Suraan. Suraan is a tradition on 1st Sura as the praise to the God Almighty for the favors, gifts, mercy, and blessings from Him (Widyaputra et al.220). Other meanings from this ritual is also human live side by side with others living things, so that people have to understand each other.
Since Sunda Wiwitan is a belief born in the society, the teachings are also adapted from what they experienced. The core belief of Sunda Wiwitan are 2, human character (ciri manusia) and nation character (ciri bangsa) (goodnewsfromindonesia.id).
According to Good News From Indonesia, in human character there are 5 teachings, welas asih (mercy), tata krama (manners), undak usuk (politeness in family), budidaya dan budibasa (good act and words), and wiwaha yudha naraga (think wise). Whereas, from nation character they believe in adi kodrati or inevitable fate (Gumirat qtd. in goodnewsfromindonesia.id)
Local beliefs are closely related to the culture from its origin, and so with Sunda Wiwitan. As the time goes, many religions came and spread in Indonesia. Many people are converting while some others staying. That is the reason why local beliefs still exist in Indonesia.
However, the followers of local beliefs have experienced some discrimination. The discrimination is due to their beliefs are not recognized as the official religion. One story came from Charles Butar-Butar the follower of Parmalim. He faced some difficulties when he wanted to register himself on a training and filled the religion column with Parmalim.
The officer said that he must filled it with 6 recognized religions in Indonesia. He did not want to fill it with the religion he does not believe in and refuse what the officer said and mentioned that he is guaranteed by the article 29 the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (abc.net.au).
Not to mention, people with local beliefs have experienced difficulties in having Identity Card few years ago. They have to fill the religion column in identity card with the religion they do not believe in (Al Makin qtd. in VOA Indonesia). The discrimination keeps continuing.
In 2006, they got leniency of the regulation. If before they have to fill the religion column with the religion they do not believe in, now they can leave it blank (detik news). Yet it still discrimination for them.
After going through some meeting sessions, Constitutional Court issued a decision Number 97/PUU-XIV/2016, the adherents of local beliefs can fill religion column in Identity card with ‘kepercayaan terhadap Tuhan YME’or ‘belief in God Almighty’ (tempo.co).
Local beliefs in Indonesia is recognized indirectly according to the policy made by the government. We, as the human being, should be nice to each other as it should be. No matter what their race is, ethnic, and beliefs.
Indonesia.go.id, Redaksi. “Agama.” Indonesia.Go.Id, https://indonesia.go.id/profil/agama. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.
“Penghayat Kepercayaan: Setelah Putusan MK dan Kolom KTP.” VOA Indonesia, https://www.voaindonesia.com/a/penghayat-kepercayaan-setelah-putusan-mk-dan-kolom-ktp/4340417.html. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.
Persada, Syailendra. “Pemerintah Bandung Terbitkan KTP Pertama Untuk Penghayat.” Tempo, 21 Feb. 2019, https://nasional.tempo.co/read/1178219/pemerintah-bandung-terbitkan-ktp-pertama-untuk-penghayat. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.
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Teguh, Irfan. “Mengenal Sunda Wiwitan dan Agama Sunda yang Lain.” tirto.id, https://tirto.id/mengenal-sunda-wiwitan-dan-agama-sunda-yang-lain-cvhD. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.
Widyaputra, Fauzan, et al. Citra Kampung Adat Cireundeu Pada Ritual Suraan. Feb. 2019, pp. 219–36. Accessed 3 Dec. 2020.