After two weeks on Java crossing to Bali brought us not only on another island but in another world. From the moment you set foot on Bali you’ll step into a ferrytale like world. Bali, also called the island of thousand temples has been the refuge for hindu and buddist people centuries ago. They fled the violenty growing dominant islamic religion on java to move to the next island to be able to live their lives with the religion they chose.
When you look to the way both christian and islamic people have spread their religion by building landmarks in the form of churges and mosques the hindu and buddist people must have thought that the only way to oppose to this religious oppression was to build an absolute multitude of miniature temples all over the country. Not only every house has its own temple, every kampong/village, every ricefield, every toko (shop) has it’s own temple. On bali people pay their respect to the gods or the different appearances of the gods for each and every occasion. Religion is an individual thing and you see both young and old people bring offerings. Last saturday was full moon and this is a moment the people bring extra offerings. It’s not a matter how big the offerings are it’s a matter of the right intentions. people at bali are very creative. the offerings a most of the time little pieces of art.
religion is not something you must it comes from inside the people that they love life and show their gratitude for everything they have.
In my opinion this is true religion.
When we mentioned that we wanted to go to Indonesia a number of people asked if it was safe to travel Indonesia? They had heard from internal disputes and the so called Bali bombings and thought that the country was ruled by fundamentalists. I’m very happy we did persue our wish to meet this fantastic country with fantastic people.
To start with the fundamentalist. Indonesia does have the largest group of islamic people in the world but they are definitely not fanatics. Indonesia has an ancient history of buddhism and hinduism. The peacefulness is deeply rooted in the genes of the people and even though islam has forced itself over the centueries into the indonesian society with a lot of violence, both buddhism and hinduism still have a strong peaceful footprint even within the current islamic indonesians.
The day we arrived in jakarta we found out that this week and next week almost the entire country is celebrating the end of the rammadan, ‘Indul fitri’. Almost everybody is free, offices and shops are closed, at least those owned by islamic people and people travel the country to visit their families. With a population of over 240 million people from which 50% is islamic we had expected a harsh regime where it comes to clothing and behaviour but the opposit is true. we see families with three four women, mother, teen daughters, grand mothers andwithin one family the wearing of a scarve differs. Both islamic and non islamic people live, as far as I can see in the street, in perfct harmony together. People travel together, eat together, entertain together. You constantly sense this respect even in a city as crowded as jakarta (16 million people live here).
Yesterday we visited the Burubudur. The Buddist temple was crowded with people. You recognise islamic women and there were lots of them. Funny how they celebrate the end of ramadan by visiting a buddist temple. I talked to many people and what they told me reinforced my first sensing that Indonesian people are very peaceful and will never be fundamentalist. The drop of people embrasing the islam after the bali bombings (75% down to 50%) shows that force and aggression do not work with indonesian people.