4 General Indonesian Etiquette for Travelers

Never get confused again! We offer only tips that work in most places in Indonesia.

From eastern to western ground zeroes of Indonesia, there lies archipelago of more than 17.000 islands with a massive assimilation that differs from place to place. They have six constitutionalized religions with hundreds more of local animism-dynamism wisdoms that represent their conservative ethinicity. So in terms of cultural, customs and etiquettes, there are huge differences that comprehensively pretty difficult to get our heads around. So we wrap for you 4 general Indonesia etiquette for travelers that work in most places. Just remember, it might only suit you enough for days or a few weeks of casual visit on the country, and obviously don’t want to be bothered with the complexity of the locals. If you want to enjoy the rich history and cultures, live somehow nomadicly blogger-like, or want to engage deeply with the natives, that’s a whole another story which needs to be very specific and pretty time consuming.

So for you casual visitors of Indonesia, you can follow this 4 general Indonesian etiquette for travelers:

1.Always do almost everything with the right hand (or at least prioritize it)

Indonesian always wipe with their left hand after their business in the toilet. That’s basically their top of mind considering the usage of left hand. So you must use the right hand for any activity, including shake hands, pointing objects, taking and giving, paying, etc. Especially if the activities are involving other people. You still may work or lift things with the left hand, they’ll give you some slacks if they’re not involved.

Except for eating, while considered as a private activity and even if you’re using spoon or fork without actually touching the food, most of them will find it at the least displeasing. Try to imagine what you wrap and comes to mouth, that’s how they preserve.

2.Acceptable Handshakes

Handshakes has its own categories based on “class” and gender. Not every handshakes is your everyday casual handshake with one hand shaking the other’s one hand. This can be applied only if you have a business meeting or as a casual handshake for coevals.

If you meet an older or respectable person, you should offers two hands simultaneously and remember to bend slightly. And don’t offer a handshake to women, except they offer it first. Instead, offer your no-touch handshake with a closed clap gesture.

3.Learn Basic Bahasa Indonesia

You don’t want yourself stuck in pantomime interactions with the natives which not english-able. Especially if you’re going to some villages or remote objects, yet even then some urbanized people still can’t even understand basic english. Hire a guide can come in handy if you have a little budget to spare and not planning on solo traveling.

4.Always Smile!

It’s obvious, smiling is a universal language for hospitality. Especially when you stare at someone first, they’ll consider your stare as a challenge when not neutralized by a smile.

Remember these 4 general Indonesia etiquette for travelers and you’ll enjoy your stay much more!

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Wedding Preparations in Indonesia

Reception process

Having a wedding party in Indonesia is a long story to tell. Some said that it’s a 2-hour party with one-year preparation. Well, they might be right for some reason, because it’s not that simple to have a wedding preparation in Indonesia as we seen in the western country, for example. A lot of energy and consideration is needed to make a numerous decision. As the wedding is going to be a sacred party for couples, and they want to be the best party of their memories.

I can say that there are some differences between urban and rural areas in consideration. In urban areas, what becomes the primary concern is the elegance and luxury of the party, while in rural areas, the order of the tradition must be followed to keep the sacred of this wedding party. Religion and beliefs are also distinguishing factor in planning a wedding party.

Plan It With Budget

The reason why it’s a long story to tell is that it needs around 6-12 month preparation before the wedding day. But other couples may require only three months or less before the D-day. It depends on their daily schedule. As it going to spend a lot of energy, they prefer to use wedding vendors. Many vendors offer various benefits. Today, many wedding vendors in town, or on the internet. Couples can choose which one is the best for their desire and, of course, with their budget. However, in rural areas, some preparation is done by family and neighbor, such as food, place, and the entertainment. It happens because of a high sense of gotong-royong (cooperation) among these peoples. As far as I know, the average cost for Wedding preparation in Indonesia is around IDR 15 – 40 million.

Special Date and Invitation

Way before the D-day, couples need to choose a perfect date. Some couples prefer the long holiday to celebrate the party, but others are finding the best date based on certain reason. By asking a Kyai (a person who know about religions well) or Sesepuh (a people who know about the customs well).

I’m sure that every couple never wants to miss their particular moment at their wedding. So, they want to capture it by hiring professional photography service. Couples also need to prepare a souvenir and send an invitation to colleagues and families. But most of it is the invitation to their parent’s colleagues and families.

Akad Nikah and Gown

Before having a wedding reception, there is an Akad Nikah (wedding ceremony). is the main point of this wedding celebration. It is a religious ceremony to inaugurate the legitimacy of both brides as a husband and wife.

At the wedding reception, bride and groom wearing customs gown or the modern one, prepared by wedding vendor. Different customs required different preparation in some parts. But as a whole, wedding preparation in Indonesia is a long way to go.

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Javanese Dining Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

Javanese culture has a big impact in Indonesia, since the number of Javanese tribe is on the top. Some of the Javanese culture, like kebaya and batik for example, has become the icon of Indonesia. Javanese culture originally came from Java Island, indeed, but only the people from Central and East Java are called Javanese, while the ones who came from West Java are called Sundanese.

There are so many rules that became a living guide for the Javanese. Here are some examples of the dining etiquette that still applied until now regarding to Javanese people:

1. Chewing sound is a big NO

Silence is golden, especially when you are eating with Javanese. Make a sound when you are chewing considered as impolite. Javanese always keep their mouth close when chewing, and if they have something to talk about, they will do it after there is no food inside their mouth.

Not only chewing sound that prohibited when you are eating with Javanese, but also some noises from your cutlery. Javanese will make the sound as low as possible, barely heard.

2. Sit and eat

Javanese are not used to stand while eating, except on the situation when they come to someone’s wedding party that has no chairs for all guest. For Javanese, it is better to sit while eating because regarding to them, it is a good manner. Still, there are some places that prohibited, like in front (or the middle) of a door. Javanese believe that when someone eats in the front of a door, he/she could not find his/her lover easily.

3. No phone call while having a meal

Answer a phone call when you are eating with Javanese is considered as rude. It is better to keep the phone in silent mode until the dinner finish. Not only phone call, leave the dining table for another business is not recommended. Javanese will always finish their meal first, put the cutlery in the sink, then continue with their business. Doing something else while eating is also prohibited.

4. Offer another people to try the dishes

Javanese people are well-known as polite. Their politeness standard is quite high, even about a single thing like greet another person. It is not only in public places, but also at the dining table too. When a Javanese host invited another people to have a dinner together, the host (and his family) will offer the guests to try the dishes. For Javanese, offer a dish to another people

shows their warmth and kindness. As the one who got offered by the Javanese, it is better to take the dish even in a small portion to appreciate the kindness of the Javanese.

Last, it will be much better if you take your cutlery to the sink by yourself after you finish your meal. Regarding to Javanese, people who do that are considered as well-mannered.

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Tedak Siten, First Step on Soil

Java is one Indonesia islands that have an abundant traditional rituals and myths. One of them called “Tedak Siten” or Earth Stepping. The ceremony is aimed for a baby girl or a boy who has been able to sit and prepare to their first step on soil. Soil for Javanese or Moslem has relationship with the beginning of human creation. Therefore, babies are not allowed to step on soil before they can sit or before their age reach 245 days. When a baby girl of baby boy has reached this age, they should pass a special ritual traditional ceremony called “Tedak Siten.”

Before the ceremony begin, parents should prepare sajen or offering which is symbolizing the grateful for God. The sajen is consist of 7 different color of glutinous rice (red, white, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet), a ladder that was made from sugar cane or also well-known as “tebu”, a decorated cock’s cage, books, money, jewelry, pen, cotton, and a bucket of water full of colourful flowers. These sajen is depicted blessing and protection from God in combating evil pr bad spirit.

Seven color of glutonous rice and a bucket of water that full with flowers are prepared by the parents of a baby before the ceremony begins. The grandparents of a baby will act as the leader of the ceremony.

The ceremony will begin in the morning. The grandma, grandpa or elderly of a child will be invited to come on the ceremony to give blessing for the child. After all guests has arrived, the ceremony begin with a child started to walk on 7 different color of delicacy (red, white, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet) made from glutinous rice (picture 1).

Parents guide their child to step on the first colour of glutonous rice. The moral message for the ritual is although there are many obstacles in life that a man/woman will be encountered in their life, they should overcome the obstacles.

The next ritual is step on ladder that was made from sugar cane or tebu. Tebu is used for the rituals because it represents all heart’s determination. When a child step the ladder it means he or she should walk in live with full of self-esteem and determination and can conquer every challenges in his or her live.

A ladder of cane sugar or tebu stepping that represents obtacles and challenges in life

After all the rituals, a child should be bathed in a bucket of water that full of flowers which consists of roses, jasmine, magnolia and cananga. Parent, elderly and guests in the ceremony will pray that a a child should always keep their family name as beautiful as flowers. In other words, he or she should behave as a good person and do not do any shameful thing that caused his or her family name become bad.

After taking a bath, a child will be dressed neatly. He or she will prepare to enter a decorated cage. Inside the cage she or he should make a choice on what she wants to be in a future.

Inside the cage, there are several items, such as writing-books, jeweleries, golden accessories- ring, necklace, bracelet, rice, cotton and other useful items. These items represents the future of a child. For example, the baby girl choose a golden bracelet which means she is hoped to be rich girl in future. If she chooses stationery of books it means that her future will lead her to be a lecturer or a teacher.

And finally the rituals of tedak siten ended with parents touching their baby girl foot on the soil for the first time in her life.

Touching her children foot on ground as the end of Tedak Siten ceremony. The moral message a a humanbeings we should not forget that we are made from soil and will be burried in soil when we die.
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Javanese Wedding Beliefs

Among Indonesians, Javanese is probably one of the most dominant culture. Rich with myths, legends,
philosophies, but yet humble. Javanese traditional costume, Kebaya, which is also part of Balinese and
Sundanese traditional costume, is recognized as Indonesian National Costume. Associated with grace,
elegance, and the trait of ‘alus’ , or refined in Javanese, it is natural for most Indonesia brides-to-be to
prefer Kebaya as their wedding attire.

To be paired with Kebaya, the bride would wear Batik to accentuate her look. Indonesian Batik has
distinctive motifs that differentiate its story and origin. Batik with ‘Truntum’ pattern, large and small
dots as the embodiment of light, symbolizes loyalty. The ‘Wahyu Temurun’ pattern indicates hope for
happiness, making it fit for use in weddings. Conversely, the ‘Parang Rusak’ pattern is believed to lead to
endless dispute, even separation, so it is not advisable to be worn in a wedding.

Conformity and Adjustment

Choosing what-to-wear can wait if you can’t find the right person to walk with. Regarding the
prospective husband, the bride and her family should also be cautious. As the Javanese still regard their
‘Primbon’ highly, the prospective groom shall have certain qualities. ‘Primbon’ is a Javanese method to
calculate perfect locations and timings for almost every event of life.

First of all, their ‘weton’ or birthday shoud be compatible. Based on Javanese horoscope, the
permanence, sustenance, happiness, and even progenies, of a marriage can be calculated. If these dates
are considered to be incompatible, you can atone such mistake by doing ‘tolak bala’ ritual to keep
misfortune at bay, for example, by piling up soil taken from certain place on a certain spot of the
couple’s house.

Another obstacle for the prospective couple is to avoid ‘Lusan’ marriage. ‘Lusan’ is short for ‘ketelu lan
kepisan’, roughly translated as ‘the third with the first’. There are two different types of this kind of
marriage. First, firstborn marrying thirdborn. Second, first person in his/her family to be married
marrying third person in his/her family to be married. Based on various reasons, from character
stereotypes to weton horoscope calculation, any ‘Lusan’ marriage is deemed to be potentially unhappy.

Is There Ever Really A Right Time?

Even after all those compatibility issues solved, the festivity of the wedding shall only be held after more
calculations. Most of all, the wedding shall not be held during ‘Bulan Suro’. ‘Bulan Suro’ is the first
month in the Javanese calendar and it is said that any celebration would be a taboo. As the year restarts,
people are expected to also cleanse themselves into a state called ‘suwung’, a spiritually and physically
immaculate condition.

The dates of each wedding rituals and ceremony shall be calculated based on ‘Primbon’ to make sure
that they are held in a good day. If you happened to be married on the wrong date, another ‘tolak bala’
ritual is necessary.

Although Indonesians are considered to be quite modern, their traditions lives on. These beliefs and
rituals rooted deeply, inseperable from everyday life and, especially, special occasions. It is common for
any culture to have so much fuss regarding weddings. When two people decided to tie the sacred knot,
the whole village shall cheer, and of course, protect the newly formed community unit.

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Asia, the largest continent in the World

Often expressed as “Pearls of the Orient”, Asia is the largest continent in the World. Comprised of over fifty individual countries each rich in tradition dating back centuries, Asia continues to be rich in ethnicities with firm beliefs in religion, family beliefs, customs and high moral character. From majestic mountains with breath-taking panoramic views of some of the most prolific scenery in the World, it is clear to see why Asia is indeed the Pearl of the Orient.

The unique culture in Asia

With a population of over four-billion citizens and growing, Asia is a unique culture comprised of many different principles and beliefs. From religion to everyday values, each individualized race is based on specific societies with strict beliefs from which lives are centered and built upon, passed from generation to generation. Although the focus is often primarily on China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, Asia is distinctive in many ways. The complexity of the culture, the hardships and torments that have been endured for centuries is only a mere beginning to fully comprehend the suffering and sacrifices made for survival.

Where traditional customs vastly differentiate in many countries from what is considered the norm by United States standards, Asian heritage is more than a custom. Asian Heritage is a belief in the individual person, each to his or her own, a unique entity brought into this World for a purpose, to fulfill legacies and the true meaning of existence. With religions from Buddhism to Hinduism and beyond, faith is the catalyst from which inspiration and determination are born. To those that have survived war, poverty and persecution, faith and the belief of a higher power allow survival.

In ancient China where male superiority was dominate. Asian women were considered servants to the predominate male of the family, catering to his individual needs. Often walking behind the male, Asian women were often ridiculed, abused and replaced as mere tokens. In today’s Asian society, women have made great strides in accomplishing what was once thought inconceivable. With greater emphasis placed on the Asian women as more than a servant, Asian women today are now matriarchs of the family, the foundation from which growth and traditions endure. Holding employment positions as leaders of major fortune 500 companies today, Asian women still adhere to traditional ancestral values, however are becoming heavily influenced by North American inspirations.

Throughout Asia today, North American traditions and beliefs continue to change the traditional values and beliefs once considered sacred. Replaced by high moral character and the belief of eternal life, North American and the changing World have erased what was once a proud and dominate society. Today, high rise architectural structures in larger metropolitan cities, replace villages where families endured, survived and worked as a strong bonding unit, forever together, forever strengthened on beliefs for a better tomorrow and the sanctity of ancestral generations passed.

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Balong hamlet in Surakarta, the home for Chinese

Balong hamlet, Sudiroprajan has been home to Chinese descendants since 1745, shortly after the Mataram Kingdom moved from Kartasura to Surakarta.

The descendants then have their own families and interact with the Javanese from other hamlets. Thus, since hundreds of years ago, Java in Surakarta and China have lived harmoniously, including mixed marriages that resulted in multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious families.

Chinese and Javanse, the perfect blend in Balong hamlet

“In Sudiroprajan, there is no problem of tolerance, Chinese-Javanese sentiments are not, not only in Balong, but also sub-Chinese villages such as Mijen, Kepanjen, Sama’an and Sudiroprajan,” Sumartono, a Chinese figure in Surakarta.

Home for about 4,000 people consisting of Javanese and Chinese descendants, Sudiroprajan was later developed as an acculturation area, initiating a series of Lunar New Year traditions, namely Buk Teko ceremonies, Umbul Mantram rituals and Grebeg Sudiro ceremonies.

During the week, Grebeg Sudiro, thousands of residents participated in a parade which started at Pasar Gede and at Tien Kok Sie Temple and surrounded by Sudiroprajan area of 5 kilometers.

Before the parade, the participants brought two mountains (cone-shaped offerings) filled with pastry cake (basket of cookies) to the Temple for prayer accompanied by dragon dances and lion dances.

When Carnival begins, two baskets of cone cake lead the procession, followed by mountains of Java and Chinese food and resources, such as onde-onde (glutinous rice ball), gembukan, keleman and bakpao (steamed bread).

In addition to food, Grebeg Sudiro is also enlivened by artistic performances from two ethnic groups, such as liong, barongsai, reog and ireng mask dance, from people living on the slopes of Mount Merapi and Merbabu.

Kirab is welcomed by thousands of Surakarta residents who flock to Pasar Gede and Parade streets.

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Life in an Indonesian Village called Sumba

When you meet someone make sure you give them a ‘Hongi’ (the act of kissing each other with the
nose). When you walk past someone say “Permisi” and bow in respect. When you go near the
sacred trees don’t use your phones. When you get the water from the spring do not sing. When
you are making food make sure the chief uses different utensils and he eats first.

Sumba, the hidden village in Indonesia

At the age of 17 I had the chance to visit a hidden village in Sumba (Indonesia). I was hit with the
reality of how people live in the jungle. Food was caught by hand, it was cooked on the fire and the
water was a 3km hike away. The culture was completely different to what I had experienced in the
city and I had to adjust. The people of Sumba were built on the belief that their ancestors provided
them with everything, so naturally the people – in ignorance and naiveness – made up ‘rules’ which
the people of the village must obey so that the ancestors would not be mad. Before I went into the
village I was equipped with a handful of guidelines of how I should act, what I should wear and
what I should do or not do. It was clear that the etiquette of the people was aimed at not wanting to
disrupt the ancestors or upsetting those that came before them.

In the morning we were asked to fetch water for the village but were given guidelines in how we
should behave at the sacred fountain. No outside items were allowed there, no drinking at the
fountain, no showering or brushing teeth either. As a foreigner being told this I thought it was
ridiculous because it was just a ‘fountain’ but as I got to know the people and why they behave the
way they do I came to realise the connection they have to the land and how powerful that
connection was to have an influence on how they carry themselves and how they behave. I visited
the houses and met the families and my understanding of the people became more clear as I
heard the stories of every person and what they believe in.

The houses are sacred, the people are sacred, the land is sacred and the people before them are
sacred. That is one of the core reasons as to why they act and behave the way they do and the
discovery was mind-blowing.

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Do’s and Don’ts for a Memorable Nyepi Holiday in Bali

Have you ever planning holiday trip to Bali at Nyepi Day (Seclusion Day), a forbidden day for any activities, including travelling, sightseeing, and even having fun in public with your friends and families?

Well actually, ‘Nyepi holiday’ have an interesting allurement than any other days in Bali. As one of the biggest Hindus community in Indonesia, Balinese uphold their customs and culture, including Nyepi commemoration. This ritual held by carrying out Catur Brata Penyepian, four prohibition that must be obeyed, which are amati karya (restriction to work), amati lelungan (restriction to travel), amati geni (restriction to light a fire), dan amati lelanguan (restriction to having fun). With this four restriction have to obeyed create unusual atmosphere in Bali.

Melasti By @journeysmeetingsandbeyond (Instagram)

As a traveller, you are indirect bound with those rule. If decided not to obey, you can deal with Pecalang, local customary police, or even kicked out from Bali.

Then where is the fun when you have to deal with those kind of restriction?

Well, Bali is unique and cool, you know! Every ritual and religious ceremony have interesting and attractive aspect to follow, and definitely memorable too.

Preparation for Nyepi By @jayneytravels (Instagram)

Two days before Nyepi as example, when Bali’s Hindunese held Melasti ceremony, sanctification ritual for all means of praying at Pura (the temple) with paraded to the beach or lake. The philosophy is beach and lake are the source of holy water (tirta amerta) to clean all the dirty (leteh) in human and nature. In south Bali, one of the beach you have to visit to witnessed this procession are Sanur beach, and Pantai Candidasa at east Bali.

One day before Nyepi, on ‘tilem sasih kesanga‘ (the ninth death moon), Hindunese celebrate Buta Yadnya ceremony in any kind of society levels, by taking one from many ‘caru’ (offerings). The purpose is that Sang Buta Raja, Buta Kala and Batara Kala will not giving harm to society.

Ogoh-Ogoh by @frantravelfly (Instagram)

On the same day, also take place Ngerupuk ritual, which is identic with Ogoh-Ogoh cavalcade. The goal of this parade same with above, to dispel Buta Kala from their neighborhood. And this is also your last day to get prepared for 24 hours of quietness, such as getting ready with drugs, food, soft drinks or anything you need.

Night full of stars at Bali By @demiusnevados (Instagram)

And comes the d-day. On this moment, traveller have to obey the four restriction apply. But, as a replacement, you’ll see on naked eye clear sky at night, with million sparkling stars as your main view. You’ll also get free fresh clear air, one of things that you can’t get right now. Relaxing atmosphere and quiet environment are another extra bonuses that you’ll get.

Ngembak Geni is the next step from this ritual, a day after Nyepi. Balinese will pay a visit to their family and relatives. And one of the interesting things to see is Omed-Omedan ritual. At Sesetan Village Denpasar, Balinese boys and girls will kissing each others as a sacred ritual, which has been run for generations.

If you want to feel different and unique vacation atmosphere in Bali, Nyepi day have to be your option to take. But, you have to take main attention to the flight and hotel reservation. My recommendation to get the best sensation of Nyepi is the two days before and one day after the ceremony. Happy vacations!

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Rambu Solo: A Creepy and yet Expensive Funeral in Toraja

A myth, descending from one to another generation said that Toraja’s ancestor came from heaven, using a stair and live on earth till today. The stair is the only thing that connect Toraja’s tribe with Puang Matua (the one and only god). This is the cultural philosophy that Toraja Tribe remains to this day

Toraja’s tribe believe that the stair is the only way spirits can reach the heaven. The tribe will use higher caves at the cliff as the cemetery. There is a reason for that, so that the spirit will get closer to the heaven. It is not the creepy story, yet. Legends said, dead body will walk by himself and reach their peaceful place to sleep forever.

The funeral ceremoney: Rambu Solo

The funeral ceremony need to be done in order to help spirits reach the heaven. It is called Rambu Solo. People believe that spirits will bring them mischance if the ceremony is not held by the family. The family will be blessed and have better harvest season in the next year for the ceremony. If don’t, they could wait until there is enough money to hold Rambu Solo.

The family should treat the dead as a living one if they don’t have enough money to hold the ceremony for them. It could be serving them food, cigarette, coffee and many more. The family should let the dead body sleep peacefully in their room, along with the family.

Ma’nene, it’s how they called dead body, which has preserved using unique balm. During Rambu Solo, the family immolate 10 – 100 carabao to honor their ancestors and help the spirits reach heaven. The higher social status, the more expensive Rambu Solo held by the family. No wonder, Rambu Solo could spend more than US$300.000.

Carabao is native Toraja’s bull. Some of them are very rare and expensive, such as Tedong Saleko (US$100.000) and Tedong Bonga (US$10.000 – US$80.000). There is a unique marketplace in Toraja, that is selling Carabao through the year. The family will sacrifice Carabao, and put the its head in Tongkonang, Cemetery or their house, as a symbol and protection from their god.

In Rambu Solo, the most attractive and creepy show is how these Ma’nene will be awaken and walk to their own cave. The tribe is still holding this ceremony until today. You can see this funeral ceremony by the end of the year, mostly at the harvest season, to honor their ancestors for the wealth and health during the last year. We recommend you to buy a pack of cigarette, and give it to the family when you reach the house.


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Dance Exotically With Dayak’s in Riam Panahan, Lamandau

Dayak is an original ethnic from Borneo. One of the ethnics which is highly respected in Indonesia. This ethnic is famous with its black magic, head-hunting, One of the recommended villages to visit this ethnic is Riam Panahan, a village in Lamandau Regency, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The traditional dance of the Dayak’s

One of the wonderful things that make you feel ‘I want to come back here again’ is an exotic dance called Baigal. Baigal is danced after a rite called Ikat Tongang. This dance is performed by Dayaks to welcome their guests. The interesting part is, you will not come to watch, you will dance with them altogether. Hold on your skirt from the excitement!

There are many special things in this dance: special instruments, special outwear, ultimately unique moves, and something you shouldn’t miss, traditional alcoholic beverage. Once the rite of Ikat Tongan finished. The music players start to play the traditional instruments called garantung. You will feel a spirit in your body when you hear this exciting music while the local people prepare to start the dance.

How a Dayak performs the Baigal dance

Once it is ready, they will choose the guests randomly to dance with them. The dancers are 2 men and two women mixed between the local and the guests. They will give them special outwears. There are a scarf and a long fabric for each dancer and a traditional cap special for the men. After that, the dance starts.

This dance has a very special tender move. Expand your hands, then make moves like you want to fly smoothly. What an unexpected dance! If you search on YouTube, you will find many energetic dances with mandau and talawang (Dayak’s traditional weapons) which will make you shiver. But Baigal is very different. Once you dance with them, your fear will fly as soon as you start. You will see another side of Dayaks, their kindness, their tenderness. You will exchange place with your opponent once or two times during the dance.

You will drink 4 or 5 times until the dance finished. Don’t worry if you somehow can’t drink it. Dayaks are very appreciating. They will surely appreciate you and will never insist you to drink it. Very nice people!

They said that this was how they showed love to their guests and that incredible traditional party was usually held all night long. Wow, ready for the challenge? Plan your exotic holiday with your lovely ones and enjoy the sensation of dancing like a dayak!


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Indonesian Etiquette

How To Behave When Entering The Family Home

Imagine yourself being plunged into a very local Indonesian scenario, such as the family home of
your Indonesian friend or partner. You will undoubtedly be thinking ‘what should I do & not do?’

No Shoes Please

Let’s start with entering the house, firstly and foremost, take off your shoes or sandals, you don’t
want to be dragging dirt into the home of your host. Don’t worry it’s very common to be barefoot
in an Indonesian home, so no need to worry about the shape of your toenails or your odd socks!

Not a Handshake in Sight

When you come to greeting someone older than you then they will put out their right hand, don’t
presume to shake it, instead of a firm handshake you should kiss their hand and place it on your
forehead for a brief second. This is a very intimate way of greeting someone older, showing them
your instant respect and gratitude. If an individual is younger just hold out your right hand.

Titles for Individuals Older Than You

When the conversation gets underway, even if you can’t speak Indonesian Bahasa, there are
correct titles to use for whomever you are talking with. If you are talking with an older male call
him Bapak, whereas if you are talking with an older female you should call her Ibu. Calling
someone significantly older than you by their first name is a big no no, play safe and stick to
Bapak (Mr) or Ibu (Mrs).

Welcome Greetings

To earn you those ever desired extra brownie points learn the correct greeting when entering the
home of either a Muslim family or a Hindu family. A standard greeting for Muslims is Assalamu
Alaikum, this translates from Arabic to mean ‘peace be upon you’. A staggering 87% of
Indonesia’s population is Muslim so learning these two words will leave you in good stead. When
entering the house of a Hindu family it is courteous to say Om Suastiastu, this is most
appropriate for Bali and means ‘Hello’. Namaste is also a well know Hindu welcoming message.

Look the Part

Bearing in mind that Indonesia is a predominantly religious country make sure, for both males
and females, to cover your shoulders, chest and knees. Wearing a hat inside doesn’t prove to be
a big deal in Indonesia, however, it would be better to remove it just in case.

A Wonderful Homely Experience

I’m sure these etiquette tips for being a guest in the local Indonesian household will be useful
and benefit your trip. If you are yet to be welcomed into a local home of an Indonesian then
prepare yourself for a wonderful experience. As a guest, you will be presented snacks and
goodies to nibble on with coffee all round, much like the British tradition of a pot of tea with
biscuits. Don’t worry about saying or doing the wrong thing, as long as you are well intentioned
then your efforts will go down with smiles and an invitation back for dinner!

Image credit: David Christover

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