Thursday January 17, 2019

Nyepi- Hindu New Year celebrated in Indonesia on March 9

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Traditional Hindu bamboo decorations or penjor, adorn a street in Glanggang, East Java, March 10, 2016. Photo: BenarNews

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.

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.

Published with permission from BenarNews

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Calls for Quran Test of Indonesian Presidential Candidates Faces Criticism By Muslim Scholars

The invitation that was sent to both presidential candidates asks them to read Al-Fatiha (the first surah in Quran) and then another surah that will be determined by the organizer.

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A man reads the Koran at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta, July 24, 2012. VOA

A recent call for a Quran test in Aceh province for Indonesian presidential candidates is facing strong criticism by Muslim scholars, who say the move would undermine racial unity.

On Saturday, the Council of Preachers Association in Aceh sent an invitation to both presidential candidates in the April 2019 vote — incumbent Joko Widodo and opponent Prabowo Subianto — to attend a Quran recitation test in the capital of Aceh province on January 15. The chairman of that council, Marsyuddin Ishak, told VOA that the test is important to reveal the true image of the presidential candidates as well as continue a tradition in their province, the only one that implement the Sharia-law in Indonesia.

Quran recitation is a requirement to compete in local elections in Aceh.

” Our leaders in here — the governor, the member of parliament and other councils — are all tested to read the Quran. The next president will be our leader too, so we want to know their capability in reading Quran as our local leaders in here,” said Marsyuddin.

Indonesia, quran
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center right, walks and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin during a ceremony marking the kick off of the campaign period for next year’s election in Jakarta, Sept. 23, 2018. VOA

However, former president of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta, Dr. Komaruddin Hidayat, told VOA that the test is unnecessary and exaggerates the importance of religion.

“I really regret it. Our lives must be based on a constitution. Understanding and learning more about our religion is important, but it doesn’t mean that we fail our live if we can’t read the Quran,” he said.

“Religion never became the standard to graduate from school or to get a job. I give you another example : if we want to test an airplane pilot, we test his knowledge on the airplane not about his ability to read the Quran. The same case with the presidential election.”

He adds that it’s better if any test was based on the candidates’ sensitivity to people of different religions and how will he fight for the rights of minorities.

Dr. Rumadi Ahmad, an official with the country’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, told VOA that the Quran recitation test is a clear example of politicizing religion.

Quran
A worker looks checks printing paper for the Koran near the Sunan Ampel mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia East Java province, July 27, 2011. VOA

“This is an exaggeration of religion in politics. We don’t have to use the capability to read the Quran as an issue in the coming election. This is a clear tendency to politicize religion. It’s dangerous and will arouse hatred among people of various races and religions in the country,” said Rumadi.

Also Read: Earthquake Measuring 6.1 Strikes Indonesia

The invitation that was sent to both presidential candidates asks them to read Al-Fatiha (the first surah in Quran) and then another surah that will be determined by the organizer.

According to Marsyuddin Ishak, Joko Widodo’s team has replied to the invitation by saying that they will consider it and discuss it further. Prabowo has not replied. (VOA)