Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous
country, with more than 100 distinct ethnic groups and 300 languages.
Indonesia's national motto is "Unity In Diversity." The Javanese
constitute almost 50% of the Indonesian population. Many features
of their culture have come to be associated with Indonesia
as a whole.
Indonesians are strongly attached to their families, which include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and first and second cousins. Indonesians see themselves as connected to the wider community as well. After family obligations, they feel a sense of duty towards their clan, village, mosque or workplace.
Indonesian kampongs (villages), usually
have a mosque, temple or church and a meeting house. Many houses do
not have electricity and most do not have plumbing. A bak mandi
(stone storage basin) is used for bathing. The head of the village
keeps track of births, deaths and marriages. Villagers live according
to the principle of gotong royong, or mutual cooperation. For
example, if a villager is building a house, neighbours will help.
Children are not considered grown up until they are married. Before they marry, they live with their parents. Marriages are festive occasions. People wear elaborate clothes and give gifts of gold, money, fruits and flowers. During the celebrations, the bride and groom sit on thrones and do not mingle with the guests except to thank them. The newlyweds live in the husband's family home or move into a place of their own. Although some middle- and upper-class women have careers, most women stay home, manage the household and raise children.
Children are treasured in Indonesia, and families
take special care of pregnant mothers. On the island of Java, there is
a special ceremony in which a pregnant woman prepares a spicy fruit salad.
If the salad turns out sour, the baby will be a boy, if it is sweet,
it will be a girl.
Circumcision marks the passage to manhood for young Muslim boys. Some boys are dressed as princes for this occasion. They are paraded through town riding a pony or on a decorated becak (three-wheeled pedicab). The selamatan, a communal thanksgiving feast that marks most important events in a person's life, follows this ceremony.
|Indonesian life is governed by five guiding principles called Pancasila, which were declared by President Soekarno in 1945: a belief in one supreme God; a just and civilized humanity; nationalism and the unity of Indonesia; Indonesian-style democracy; and social justice.