It was last year that me and my friends decided to go to Indonesia as a destination for our graduation trip. We mainly visited Bali island and Central Java that have a lot of fascinating culture, extensive history and cultural properties.
Although the majority of people belong to muslim in Indonesia, they do not establish Islam as the national religion. Namely Indonesian have religious liberty. As prof. van der Meer Indicated us the religions in Indonesia with a map, the religions are varied depends on the regions in Indonesia. Despite Indonesia having a Muslim majority, Bali remains one of the islands in Indonesia that boast a Hindu majority. Likewise protestantism, catholicism, and buddhism are spread throughout in Indonesia. Though I did not know such a religious diversity in Indonesia at that time, I somehow figured out that Bali and Java have different religions because each places looked very different. For instance, as soon as I arrived at the airport in Bali, I found woven baskets filled with colorful flowers or rice on the floor. I thought it was just traditional decoration at that moment but I found many of them as well while I was walking in the city. It turned out that they are small offering baskets called “canang sari” which Balinese offer to their HIndu Gods. Also I felt Bali is one of the most liberal places in Indonesia, where people can drink alcohol and eat pork, unlike in other places in Indonesia.
In the suburbs of the city Yogyakarta in the island of Java, I saw many religions lived together as Prof. van der Meer mentioned in the lecture; cathedral, church, Chinese temple, Buddhist temple and Hindu temple. I actually visited Prambanan temple and Borobudur temple during my trip in Indonesia. Prambanan is a 9th century Hindu temple and Borobudur is the largest buddhist temple which is also compounded around 9th century. Borobudur is registered as one of the World Heritage and I was really amazed to see the decoration with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Moreover it made me surprise to see those two different religious temples were co-existing within 40km since a long time ago. This is impressive and it also tells us the importance to respect each religions and live together harmoniously as Indonesia has proved.
Related to Indonesian culture and history, I remembered the lecture I took back in my college. The professor in the lecture presented us the history textbook which Indonesian high school students use. The professor explained us that the history textbook stresses on the strength of Indonesian people’s patriotic spirit which never succumb to threats of colonization.The textbook aims to foster national identity through the history education and I think this emphasis influenced by the nationalist movement under long colonization. It was interesting to see the difference in educational textbooks because I have never seen those descriptions in Japanese history textbook, where only facts happened in past are chronologically described. Despite historically Indonesia had been struggling of interference by several countries, I believe there were still something other countries could not change them, which was their own core values and cultural identities.