Studying Culture

At the Volcano Tangkuban Perahu

Mt. Kerinci in the Jambi Province on the Island of Sumatra

Mt. Kerinci in the Jambi Province on the Island of Sumatra

When anybody moves into a new community, without learning about their legends, customs, culture, and in general, way of life, they will never really understand the people they are living among. So, to assist us in understanding the people, we have studied a little about the legend associated with the volcano Tangkuban Perahu.

This volcano is located to the north of Bandung about 18-20 miles.  It was very interesting for us to learn that there are many Indonesians that visit volcanoes to appeal directly to the spirits that reside at these mountains (even the President and other political and military figures make visits to these volcanoes). Ceremonies are held at some volcanoes which involve offerings of food, flowers, cloth, clippings from the Sultan’s fingernails, goats, chickens, and even cattle. The local people also taught us that people in the area sleep with their heads pointed toward the volcanoes, in a sign of respect toward the spirits that live there.

Click this link to read a National Geographic article about volcanoes in Indonesia.

We were also taught by the local people that many of these beliefs are remnants of the Hindu religion that dominated of Indonesia’s islands many hundreds of years ago.

Religion is a very important aspect of Indonesian life. If the religions are not studied, appreciated, and understood, an outsider coming to live among them will always be on the outside looking in. We have a lot to learn about the different religions that are represented in this nation.

Below is a video we made of our trip to the volcano, “Tangkuban Perahu.”