Understanding Indonesia's Diverse Culture


Indonesia is an exotic country with a multitude of wonders dispersed across the land, waiting to greet anyone who dares to experience it. It is a country worth exploring for an experience of a lifetime. If you are interested in visiting the many islands, first you need to know some of the local culture to get you started. It will help you get to know a little bit more about Indonesia, so you can immerse yourself further once you arrive. Here are things you should know about Indonesian Culture:

Diverse Cultures


Indonesian culture is never one thing, but many different things represented as one. As an archipelago consisting of more than 17,000 islands and about 255 million inhabitants, Indonesia has a diverse culture, with each region being unique with its traits and rules. Offering you places with a different characteristic everywhere you look, such as language, people, community, food, handicrafts, norms, values and many more. It’s interesting how Indonesia is so diverse in cultures but still lives in harmony as one. This goes with Indonesia’s motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,” meaning “Unity in Diversity.”. So be sure to expect new things and encounter different characters in certain regions of Indonesia.

Close Family Relationship

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Family is the core of Indonesian culture. Indonesians cherish familial bond, going as far as extended family. They feel the obligation to always stick by their family no matter how old and independent they are. Not because of dependency, but because of the respect and value when it comes to family. The family's beackground will also often affect the social status of a person because Indonesian people tend to judge a person based where they came from, specifically their family's status and their bond with them.

Collective is Indonesia’s Way of Life

Indonesia is not an individualist country. They do everything as a collective, even doing simple stuff like buying groceries, shopping, eating, and basically everything. You will find a lot of inclusiveness and friendly behaviour in Indonesia because they try to include others in their life. This collective way of life is the result of the communal lifestyle from the past when Indonesia still consisted of small villages. They tend to keep a close relationship with others and take care of each other. Thus this way of life is the soul of Indonesian culture until now. Finding people in groups doing an activity will not be an odd sight in this country.

The Social Hierarchy

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Age and job positions are significant in the Indonesian community. Those two aspects determine someone’s status in the social hierarchy, and people’s status must be respected at all times. Specially age-related status. That’s why Indonesians always respect their elders because of the assumption that elders hold the most experience in life, and the young must seek wisdom from them. This can be seen in the traditional community, which is usually very strict about this kind of thing, and will have severe consequences to those who fail to comply. The amount of respect includes how to address someone of a higher status, how to talk to them and the language they use, how they dress when meeting someone of a higher rank, and how to act around them. One example of showing respect to the elders is by kissing their hand when meeting them.

The Land of Storytellers

Source: blog.eoasia.com

Indonesia has a unique way of seeing a natural phenomenon and a geological process. They almost have stories for everything, about mountains, rivers, hills, lakes, even small things like trees. Indonesia is full of legends and myths, and it is related to stories about old civilisations and its archaeological findings such as Hindu and Buddhist temple ruins. Most of the stories undoubtedly contain magical abilities and other mythical elements to it, but that is what makes it exciting and captivating. These stories are part of Indonesia's cultural heritage since it usually came from a traditional community that still upholds culture very dearly. You will be surprised how creative Indonesians can be if it comes to stories about legends and myths.

Religion Comes First

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Religion is an essential part of Indonesian culture. You will probably see a lot of religious practices and rituals everywhere because Indonesia has many spiritual communities. This is reflected by their daily routine. For example, when it comes to prayer time, all work is dropped to conduct prayer rituals. Religion also affects a lot of life aspects in this country, such as norms, values, law, ethics, and much more. Even Indonesian culture and tradition is highly intertwined with religion. Indonesia has six main religions and hundreds of traditional belief systems, so you will encounter a variety of religious rituals throughout this country.

Traditional to the Bone

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The people of Indonesia also tend to include tradition in their daily life. Fusing their modern life with some of the traditional aspects of Indonesia. It is because Indonesian culture has strong roots in their life. You can see from a lot of fashion designers and architects incorporating traditional aspects into their work, such as batik or traditional house models. Many even use traditional beliefs to decide their life choices, such as picking a good day for business through the traditional dating system. It is very interesting to see how traditional meets modern in Indonesian culture.

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