Monday February 18, 2019
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Interfaith Tolerance In an Indonesian Village

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Hindu New Year in Bali, Indonesia Image: theatlantic

Every year, the day after Nyepi – the Hindu New Year’s Day in Indonesia – a parade of relatives and friends descends on the home of Sucipto, a Hindu community leader in Glanggang Village of Malang regency in East Java.

The well-wishers are not just Hindus, but Muslims too. This religiously diverse village is like many others in mostly moderate, Muslim-majority Indonesia – it has nurtured a tradition of interfaith tolerance for decades.

Nyepi lasts for three days and its mood – both joyful and contemplative – infects the whole village.

Hindus stay home and remain quiet on Nyepi, which fell on March 9 this year, but the following day is for visiting.

“More guests come in the evening. My living room can’t hold any more,” Sucipto told BenarNews from his home where the coffee table was laden with snacks, bananas and mineral water for visitors (below).

Image Source: BenarNews

Muriadi, Sucipto’s former junior high school mate, visits Sucipto on Nyepi every year. And every year, Sucipto shows up on Idul Fitri, Islam’s most festive day, at Muriadi’s house.

“We respect each other’s belief,” Muriadi said.

Muriadi says he has taught his children that same spirit of tolerance.

“It seems natural, as the neighborhood has been practicing religious tolerance for such a long time,” he said.

Another visitor was Sucipto’s Muslim niece, Wahyuni. Every year, her family makes the 50-kilometer (31-mile) trip by motorcycle from their home in another village to pay respects to Sucipto. Interfaith relations are a family affair.

“Our family members vary. Some of them practice Hinduism, some Islam, and others are Christians. We respect each other,” said Wahyuni.

Day of Silence

About 170 of 1,000 families in Glanggang Village practice Hinduism. The rest are Muslims and Christians, both Protestant and Catholic.

Traditional Hindu ornaments, called penjor, decorate front yards in the Karang Tengah neighborhood, where the Eka Kapti Hindu temple and a mosque stand 100 meters apart.

The whole village was silent on Nyepi, when Hindus cannot work, go out, light fires or use electricity. Although not required or requested to do so, many Muslims observed the same restrictions.

Kasir, who is Muslim, turned off all the lights in his house and stayed home much of the day.

“It is my way to show respect to those who observed the day,” he said.

Another Muslim, Misenah, did not run her tempeh-making business because the machines that make the fermented soybean cakes are noisy.

“No, I don’t mind to halt production for just one day. It’s my way to respect them,” she said.

Mosques in the village announced the call to prayer on loudspeakers, but Muslims went home quickly afterward, Kasir said.

Sucipto, for his part, says he has attended Qur’an recitals or other religious activities held by his non-Hindu neighbors.

He joins others neighbors to clean up the village’s cemetery complex twice a year: to welcome Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, and Hindu Nyepi.

Kasir, meanwhile, helped stage manage the Tawur Kesanga ceremony, the day before Nyepi, when Hindus make and burn ogoh-ogoh, ornate paper sculptures symbolizing evil spirits, in a nearby field. (Source- BenarNews)

  • Akanksha Sharma

    Nyepi is a day of complete silence, everyone including tourists, remain confined to their homes or hotels and special police ensures that everything is closed including the airports, ( although the hospitals and hotels stay open); that the streets are empty (except for ambulances); that no electricity or lights are being used.

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  • Akanksha Sharma

    Nyepi is a day of complete silence, everyone including tourists, remain confined to their homes or hotels and special police ensures that everything is closed including the airports, ( although the hospitals and hotels stay open); that the streets are empty (except for ambulances); that no electricity or lights are being used.

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Triple Talaq Act is Not a Commodity, Nor are Women Doormats

Where are the conscious intellectuals in the country now, like those award-wapsi groups; and why is the media holding back from denouncing the perpetuation of the baneful practice?

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If we don’t cry now, Triple Talaq, and such other vices, might go digital, and burn millions of households.

BY: SALIL GEWALI

Election season in India is like a festival for many. For some parties’ workers, it is an occasion for joy, and merrymaking too. This is also the time when leaders respond to your phone calls! They hardly miss to send you even birthday wishes, thanks to the automated reminders that help even unkind leaders to put on the face of kindness and generosity with ease.

Well, a flurry of promises is now being made. Some are logical while some are very illogical. Some are even unconstitutional and outrageous. And this all goes to prove that certain political leaders can go to any extent for votes. Their aspirational leaders speak out without thinking. The prime objective is to please the voters. Moreover, making promises does not cost anything.

In the process of pleasing some, certain leaders have grievously hurt many others. They are also now unashamedly getting at Triple Talaq Act. They are bargaining with the certain voters over this as a saleable commodity. Is it not a sore point with female folks? Just imagine how hurt the fathers of million daughters in the country must be.  Again, a sane person should agree that Triple Talaq has been heavily misinterpreted and thus abused for centuries, as all the laid down strict conditions are ignored and moral associated overlooked. Even our immediate neighbor Pakistan, an Islamic country has long abandoned it because of the increasing misuse of the Islamic law.

Triple Talaq
Political leaders can go to any extent for votes and their aspirational leaders speak out without thinking. Their prime objective is to please the voters.

Yes, we well know how hard the present government had fought with the adversaries to bring in the bill against this regressive custom. Modi government certainly deserves the praises for this bold step forward. This bill will definitely save both men and women in many aspects.  Women from their husbands’ atrocities and men from committing sin!

But now, with the MP election around the corner, the certain parties are stooping low to take advantage of this much-abused practice. In their course of campaign, the leaders are claiming that they will revoke the bill if voted to power. What is most disgusting is that even the woman leaders of Congress party, without a sense of guilt, are boasting about that their party will instantly restore the Triple Talaq. Is it not a very dangerous development itself? True, when people lust after one thing, they simply forget that they are walking on the path of vices! Where are the conscious intellectuals in the country now, like those award-wapsi groups; and why is the media holding back from denouncing the perpetuation of the baneful practice? This is indeed a real tragedy! 

Do we want the cutting edge of modern technology to be used to break off the marriage? Many marital ties have been severed by mere a phone call? Are women doormats or disposal items? One very upset mother of three daughters says —  ‘this misused practice has literally reduced the millions of talented women to living corpses!’ 

ALSO READ: India Says Pakistan’s Links with Pulwama Attack Clear For All to See

If the election and democracy are only to help get society to be more godless then we are definitely heading towards the anarchy. So damning, the leaders, who commit themselves to ensure the bright future for the society and better governance, can thus set about dragging the society into the whirlpool oppression, repression, and frustration. How on earth could we trust such kind of leaders and bet on their integrity? Have they not equally brought a bad name to other leaders of integrity?  Come on, let’s wake up and cry hard for the leaders of principle and moral who in fact can honestly promise to douse the fire of vices. If we don’t cry now, Triple Talaq, and such other vices, might go digital, and burn millions of households.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.