Culture in Lombok

Culture in Lombok
The Christian minority religion is actively practised in Lombok by some of Chinese ethnicity and other Indonesians especially those from East Nusa Tenggara. There is also a small Arab community in Lombok whose history dates back to early settlement by traders from Yemen. The small community is still evident mainly in Ampenan, the old port of Mataram and retain many of their own traditions. A UNHCR refugee centre was established some years ago in Lombok.
Recently people of Iraqi origin have arrived in Lombok under the provisions of this UNHCR program. Many of the displaced have remained in a state of limbo in Lombok whilst trying to seek immigration to nearby Australia or elsewhere. Some of these refugees have intermarried with Lombok residents, this adding adding their own subtle cultural influence to Lombok. There are also a small number of people predominantly of European, Australian and New Zealand origins who are resident or semi-permanent residents of Lombok. Some are retirees, others have business activities in Lombok or nearby or they are employed in the mining industries of Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB'). Most are living in the coastal areas of West Lombok. Lombok has individual settlers and small communities of Indonesian people from other areas including Bali,Jawa, Sumbawa, and Timor as well as other areas of Indonesia but the prevailing and dominant culture remains that of the Sasak people. Many influences of animist belief still prevail within the Sasak community. Traditional magic is widely practised to ward off evil and illness, to seek good fortune or to assist with the resolution of disputations and personal antipathy. There are a range of outcomes sought from local Dukun (traditional healer and magician) ranging from love spells to death. Thieves will often have magic used upon them so that their bodies will become 'hot' leading to a confession, a frequent trespasser may become disoriented and become 'lost' or a boy may fall under a girls spell of desire and fall in love with her. Magic may be practised by an individual alone but normally a person experienced in such things is sought out to render a service. Normally money or gifts are made to this person in return for their services and the most powerful practitioners are treated with considerable respect.

Lombok has a rich and enduring indigenous culture that has withstood the pressures of modernity remarkably well. The strong remnant culture and history of the Sasak people is one of the many unique attractions of the island. The island has of a total population of 3,166,685 (as of 2010 Census), 85% are indigenous Sasak people whose origins are thought to have arisen from Java in the first millennium BC. Other residents include an estimated 10–15% Balinese, with the small remainder being Tionghoa-peranakan, Javanese, Sumbawanese and Arab Indonesians. The Sasak people are culturally and linguistically closely related to the Balinese, but unlike the Hindu Balinese, the majority practice local Muslim faith and traditions. Some have described Islam as being first brought to Lombok by traders arriving from Sumbawa in the 17th century who then established a following in eastern Lombok. Other accounts describe the first influences arriving in the first half of the 16th century. The palm leaf manuscript Babad Lombok contains the history of Lombok and describes how Sunan Prapen was sent by his father, The Susuhunan Ratu of Giri, on a military expedition to Lombok and Sumbawa in order to convert the population and propagate the new religion. However the new religion took on a highly syncretistic character, frequently mixing animist and Hindu-Buddhist beliefs and practices with Islam. This remained so until a more orthodox Sunni characterised version of Islam slowly began to become popular in the beginning of the 20th century. The Indonesian government agamaization programs (acquiring of a religion) in Lombok during 1967 and 1968 led to a period of some considerable confusion in religious allegiances and practices. These agamaization programs later led to the emergence of more conformity in religious practices in Lombok.

A notable non-orthodox Islamic group found only on Lombok are the Wektu Telu ("Three Prayers"), who as the name suggests pray only 3 times daily, instead of the 5 times stipulated in the Quran. Many of the Waktu Telu beliefs are entwined with animism. Waktu Telu has influences not only of Islam, but also Hinduism and pantheistic beliefs. There are also remnants of Boda (people without a religion) who maintain Pagan Sasak beliefs. Before the arrival of Islam Lombok experienced a long period of Hindu and Buddhist influence that reached the island through Java. To this day a minority Balinese Hindu culture remains strong in Lombok. The Hindu minority religion is still practised in Lombok alongside the majority Muslim religion. Hinduism is followed by the many ethnic Balinese who have travelled across the Lombok Strait from Bali as well as some people of indigenous Sasak origin. All the main Hindu religious ceremonies are celebrated in Lombok and there are many villages throughout Lombok that have a Hindu majority population. According to local legends two of the oldest villages on the island, Bayan and Sembalun, were founded by a prince of Majapahit. The Nagarakertagama, the 14th century palm leaf poem that was found on Lombok, places the island as one of the vassals of the Majapahit empire. This manuscript contained detailed descriptions of the Majapahit Kingdom and also affirmed the importance of Hindu-Buddhism in the Majapahit empire by describing temple, palaces and several ceremonial observances. Lombok experienced a period of Balinese occupation until the Dutch colonial government reinstated the Sasak rulers in the early 1890s following a direct appeal from the deposed Sasak rulers to the Dutch colonialists asking them to assist in driving out the Balinese occupiers. After a protracted, costly and destructive military campaign the Dutch eventually overwhelmed the Balinese with a bloody battle fought around Ampernan and Mataram. The Dutch took the Nagarakretagama manuscript as part of the valuable Lombok treasure taken as war-booty from the destroyed palace of Mataram-Cakranagara in Lombok in 1894. Following the defeat of the Balinese occupiers the people of Lombok remained under Dutch colonial control of the Netherlands East Indies until the Japanese occupied Lombok in the 1940s.