Religion


Makam Keramat

(sacred graves)

Sacred graves are common in Indonesia, as many people are known to travel to them (bezirarah) and pray for every imaginable desire or need.

Here are a few of the things people will pray for at these graves:

  • To pass a test in school.
  • To cause someone to fall in love with them (love spell).
    • This will make them appear more beautiful to others.
    • This is also done to help them find a marriage partner.
  • To receive healing.
  • To bless a business.
  • To bless land prior to it being cleared and planted.
    • This special prayer is for obtaining permission from spirits that reside in and around this piece of land. The prayer could also be for the purpose of clearing the area of any spirits that would hinder the prosperity of that land.
  • Prior to entering into battles with enemies.
  • Protection from evil spirits.
  • Protection from any type of danger.
  • Winning gambling numbers.
    • Some say that when your prayers have evil motives, like to gamble or to hurt others, the evil will come back to haunt you.
    • People at the grave called “Makam Syech Keramat Tinggi,” say that people who’ve prayed for winning gambling numbers, or for other evil purposes, have reported that fierce tigers have rushed out of the brush and attacked them. Others reported that they were attacked by giant centipedes.

Arabic Amulet

Amulet of Arabic Text

Amulet of Arabic Text
Laminated card containing Arabic poetry, phrases, as well as a small leaf.

While walking through the traditional market we noticed a table full of various types of amulets (jimat) for sale. One was a laminated card, which had both sides printed in Arabic text. People will place these cards in their wallets, purses, cars, motorcycles, etc., to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

Since the Quran was written in Arabic, Muslims consider the Arabic language a sacred and holy language. For that reason there is tremendous respect and honor given to it, above all other languages.

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Ramadan

The Islamic Fasting Month

Restaurants that serve food during daylight hours put up curtains so that fasting Muslims won't see people eating. Outside the City of Jambi, people are forbidden to eat in these restaurants, though they can buy the food packaged, as "take-away."

A Restaurant with a Curtain Across its Opening
Restaurants that serve food during daylight hours put up curtains so that fasting Muslims won’t see people eating.
Outside the City of Jambi people are forbidden to eat in these restaurants, though they can buy the food as “take-away.”

In 2013 the Islamic fasting month (Ramadan) occurred from 8 July till 8 August (some denominations of Islam say the 9th). When Westerners hear of the fasting month, they think Muslims fast for the entire month. That is not the case. They only fast during daylight hours, and there are often celebratory meals conducted in the mornings and evenings. The food prices tend to rise during this time of the year because more food is consumed during this month than the other months of the year.

There are also other significant changes that take place during Ramadan, and for guests in Indonesia, we’ve listed below some of the changes we observed in the Indonesian City of Jambi.

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Jimat Keberuntungan

(Good Luck Amulet)

AmuletThis replica of an old Dutch coin is carried by Indonesians, or placed above doorways, to protect them from evil spirits and give good luck.

Amulet
This replica of an old Dutch coin is carried by Indonesians, or placed above doorways, to protect them from evil spirits and give good luck.

While visiting a traditional market, we stopped at a stall that was selling a variety of amulets, one of which was an assortment of replicas of old Dutch coins. There are many Indonesians which believe that old coins and old paper currency possess magical powers. People will carry this money in their wallet for protection. We’ve also known people to place them above the doors to their homes, on a ledge in that area. This is somewhat similar to the horseshoe that people in US used in days gone by. These horseshoes are still commonly seen hanging above barn doors, though the people only have them there as a decoration, they don’t really place any value in them.

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Imlek

Chinese New Year  /  Year of the Snake

ch kids

Indonesia is heavily populated with Chinese Indonesians  (9 million), and with such a large number of them, the Chinese New Year is a much celebrated event.

Yesterday was the Chinese New Year, and to celebrate it we visited different Chinese families as they followed their Buddhist / Confucius, etc., traditions of welcoming guests into their homes and serving them a wide assortment of foods. While visiting, it was also a great opportunity to learn of some of their beliefs, and having made notes, we included them below.

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Islamic Competition

Sign giving directions to Taman Rimbo and the former area used to conduct the Islamic competition MTQ

Sign giving directions to Taman Rimba and the former area used to conduct the Islamic competition MTQ

Close to the Jambi airport there’s sign on the road giving directions to “Arena Ex. MTQ.” Being curious about the sign’s meaning, we began asking around and this is what we’ve discovered:

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Dietary Laws

Kosher / Halal

As the Jews have strict dietary laws, so do Muslims. The Jews use the word kosher for foods that are acceptable, and treif for those that are not. For Muslims, their word for acceptable foods is halal, whereas the forbidden foods are considered haraam. Clicking on the previous links will inform you of which foods are considered lawful and which are considered sinful.

Fortunately for the Coca-Cola Company, their drink is considered lawful.

Foods that are lawful for Muslims to consume will have a stamp or seal indicating so. This bottle top has the word “Halal” printed on it.

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