By : Lucretia Prang
Most people in western countries are under the impression that Lombok is purely islamic. With this article I would like to explain the religious diversity of this beautiful island and also educate foreigners about the fact that the islamic population here is very moderate. In recent times, Indonesia had to cope with acts such as the Bali bomb and the Marriot hotel incident, which caused a negative effect for the economy and tourism.
Looking at the pure islamic values, these incidents are against the Muslim religion and people in Lombok do not agree with them. Here people are open to every culture, religion and nationality.
Foreigners who have visited this piece of paradise know very well what I am expressing. Not only can we experience the religion of Islam here, we also have the chance to learn about Balinese Hinduism and Buddhism.
As an anthropologist I have been always very interested in the different cultures here and in past times of my Lombok research I made the pleasant discovery that different religions live rather harmonious on this small island.
The Balinese have been here since the 17th century, especially in West Lombok. Various traces of the Karangasem Raja times can be viewed all over Cakranegara and Narmada, not to forget Batu Bolong Temple near Senggigi. Taman Narmada, a majestic water palace built by one of the Balinese rajas in the 19th century, is a wonderful historical example – you also can go swimming here.
Suranadi, a bit further, has another beautiful temple and a swimming pool built by Dutch colonials. Here you can refresh your body and soul in Awet Muda – the name for water that keeps you young and beautiful – try!
The Buddhist community is seldom recognized but quite important for Lombok history. A Swiss anthropologist, Albert Leemann, found out in the early 1900’s that the actual ethnic population of Lombok originates from Burma, today Myanmar, and therefore brought Buddhism to this region.
However, some time ago I took some Australian anthropology students to a very isolated Buddhist community near Pemenang, West Lombok. We had to walk about 2 hours through bamboo forests, rivers and up a steep mountain pass.
Once there we reached the local Vihara, the actual Buddhist temple. In front of the temple, a huge Banyan tree and a view to kill for: the three gilis at its best.
The village is very simple, plain bamboo huts and everybody chewing betel-nut and being very relaxed.
As to Lombok Islam, it is in fact a very colorful religion, in some parts of the islands intermingled with elements of traditional aspects and traces of Hinduism. Lombok Islam is very unique and tolerant.
Hopefully visitors will take their positive impressions back home and will tell other people so that negative reports in the media will be wiped out and people can look for themselves by visiting this truly interesting and magic place, Lombok.
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