Monday, September 26, 2011

Borneo Tribe Practices Its Own Kind of Hinduism

Indonesia, the country famous for volcanoes, earthquakes and islands, has spawned a new religion.

New York Times has an interesting piece on Borneo tribe, titled Borneo Tribe Practices Its Own Kind of Hinduism.

Indonesia's policy on religion is forcing a tribe, that follows Kaharingan, to become Hindu, at least on paper. They now call their religion "Hindu Kaharingan ". While some deem it a fake faith created for appearances, others see it as returning to their original faith. Many see it as a tool to protect themselves from the Chrisitian and Muslim majority in their region. As of now their brand of Hinduism has nothing to do with the Hinduism practiced in Bali, India or elsewhere, yet they find succor in their new association. How long will this last? For people used to a land that is not new to gigantic volcanoes creating or destroying islands, this must be just another day - a stroll in their rich and diverse forest.

Now, however, things are changing, and the missionaries are being held at bay. That is because villagers have seized on a strategy being used by many Dayak: They are re-branding. On paper at least, most of the people of Tumbang Saan are now followers of Hinduism, the dominant religion on the distant island of Bali. Few here could name a Hindu god or even recognize concepts, like karma, that have taken on popular meanings even in the West. But that is not the point. In a corner of the world once famed for headhunters and impenetrable remoteness, a new religion is being developed to face up to an encroaching modern world and an intrusive Indonesian state. The point, in short, is cultural survival. 
 “The Hindus have helped us,” said Mr. Udatn. “They’re like our umbrella.” 



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