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Old 2nd May 2013, 06:55 AM   #29
A. G. Maisey
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 6,215
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Thank you Ariel, for taking the time to make a response when you are under pressure. I do understand:- wives, grandchildren and significant others can really be quite demanding at times.

I live in The Land of Oz, not because I choose to, but because I am an Australian. Although I do have a part of my left foot planted firmly in Jawa, it is not really a place I would choose to live, particularly as I grow older. Javanese villages, both urban and rural tend not to be mystical, but rather to be hotbeds of factions, intrigues, slander and gossip. They are places where the elected government official who has responsibility for the good order and political safety of the households under his administration has the right to enter any household at any time, day or night if his entry is in the best interests of the community. I much prefer to live in Oz where people need a search warrant before they can search my house. Jawa, indeed Indonesia in general is a wonderful place to visit ---

Body language is one thing that can be difficult for an outsider to come to terms with, and I used the left hand example as one that usually surprises, sometimes shocks people who are unaware of it, especially when one explains why nobody in Jawa possesses a left hand. I understand that in many parts of India the left hand is equally as unloved, but for entirely different reasons.

The head touching thing is another Javanese no-no, and it is not so long ago that it was deemed to be adequate reason to kill a person.

Jawa really should not be thought of Muslim, which could well be thought a very peculiar thing to say, when Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. The truth of the matter is the vast bulk of Javanese people --- and here I mean people who live in The land of Jawa, not upon the Island of Jawa --- remain faithful to their indigenous belief system. When Indonesia replaced the old Dutch colonial rule, it was decided that everybody could follow the religion of their choice and had the freedom to worship their own God, but the indigenous belief system was not recognised as a religion, so people who could not, or who did not want to identify as Buddhist, Hindu, Christian --- or whatever--- mostly jumped on the Muslim bandwagon and became what we call "Islam KTP" = "Islam kartu penduduk" = "Islam according to identity card". Maybe a bit like a lot of people in England, and Australia for that matter, are CofE. These non-religious people are sometimes referred to as "Abangan".Even the people who do consider themselves Muslim are very often Kejawen; the actual number of hard-core, mainline Muslims is very small, and they tend to be made the butt of humour by many other Javanese.

Still, with all that said, Islam has had a deep and a lasting effect upon the way in which the keris is understood at the present time. But that's a different story.

Enjoy your visit Ariel, and remind those parents of your grandchildren that visits are two way streets. We senior people are entitled to dictate terms to those who follow. Its one of the privileges of living long enough to do so.

David,

yes, there is some remarkably good stuff online now, have a look at Sumastuti.
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