Hinduism in Bali and Indonesia

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Indonesia: A country which is known as country with world’s largest Muslim population. It is mix of diverse culture with more than 300 distinct ethnic groups that exists there. The country is world’s 3rd largest democracy with over 17,000 islands in Indonesia and the population of country spans around 400 million + people living in there. Even with such large population Indonesia still have substantial numbers of citizens that belong other religions and Hindus constitute 2% (3-4 million)of total Indonesia’s population.

Indonesia recognizes only 6 religions as part of their country and these religions are Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism. Indonesia was a Hindu country named ancient Majapahit empire and Muslim influence increased in the region since 17th century. The country got independent from Dutch empire in 1946-47.

The country with such large population still has names that are taken from Sanskrit even the President of Indonesia Mr. Soekarno had Sanskrit name.

President Mr. Soekarno did not recognize Hinduism despite of his secular image. He gave recognition only to Islam and Christianity. due to this hardliner stance millions of Hindus were forced to convert to Islam .The major part of Indonesian population still have Hindu names and Muslim by faith .

Many citizens living in the Indonesian region have Hindu names , they practice Hinduism but have Muslim identity as Hinduism was not officially recognized at that time. .None one was allowed to raise voice in Indonesian for 30 years of military dictatorship. After fighting for years finally in 1964, Hinduism got official recognition.

After the democratic rule came in Indonesia, Hindus became free from restrictions and an estimated 10 lakh people that were declared Muslims during president Soekarno regime now came back to their original identity and became Hindu.

At present  the Hindu population in Indonesia is about 80-90 lakhs. The unofficial numbers might go above 1 crore if we include citizen  those who practice Hinduism but have Muslim official identity.

Bali island remains Hindu majority island in Muslim majority country and moreover Majority of this Hindu population live in island of Bali.

Hindus living in Indonesia are very serious and devoted about their faith and hence have survived for millions of years. During 1960′s and 70;s islands like java saw substantial conversions of people from other faith joining Hinduism. This conversions were hugely motivated by the fact that region has glorious Hindu past which comprised of  Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms. During this period Many adherent of local animist tribes like  the Toraja in southern Sulawesi, the Dayak tribes in Borneo and the Karo in North Sumatra, also converted to Hinduism.

Bali is a Hindu dominated island which stands tall in the map of the world. Nearly 93% of the Balinese follow a distinct form of Hinduism which is unique to the island which has evolved from an combination of Buddhist Hindu faith, The island consists of thousands of ancient Hindu temples and the people of Bali celebrate most of the Hindu festivals. As per the Census figures the island’s consists of ethnic Balinese. which make 89% of the population. Hinduism beliefs & local beliefs have been part of the Balinese culture since ages and they are carried forward by Bali people from generation to generation. Bali is also part of Indonesia that is inhabit of various ethnic groups and religious minorities in the region.

Bali is a major tourist place which have many waterfalls to enjoy, the beauty of culturally rich island is awesome and they have hot springs, beaches and ancient temples with the stories attached to them. Bali is one of the most economically developed island of  Indonesia with less than 5% population below the poverty line which is much lower as compared with countries gross average i.e. 12%  people are below poverty line in the country.

The strong local tradition makes island more interesting, the rich cultural heritage is one of the major attraction of the tourists. Bali is prime example of how a culturally, religiously and ethnically rich area prosper even in the country where Hindus are in minority. The success mantra of such region can give lessons to countries like India and Nepal who shy away from building a Hindu nation just to prove their fake secularism image in the world.

The famous Bali blast was attack on Hinduism in the region and after Bali bombing many Hindu organizations organized International Hindu Youth Conference in 2004 in Bali island to discuss the issues of Bali Hindus. The fundamentalist have been trying hard to bring in several laws to disrupt the Hindu identity from the country. The Indonesian Hindus look up to India for some help but the spineless government of India have for 60 years done nothing for Hindus living in Sri Lankan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The last of hope of Hindus around the world is a rule in India that cares about Hindu population around the globe.

Dr. Made Sadguna, from Bali who is member of the Governing Council of the Bali-based World Hindu Parishad looks after the issues related to Hinduism in the region.

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