A Lessons from Lombok for Indonesia

With its beaches, waterfall, and green volcano crater lake, Lombok is viewed by many peoples as the other world paradise beside Bali. Apart from those beautiful view in Lombok, there is millions of people live from various ethnic groups which display diverse cultures. As what mentioned above that 87 percent of Lombok population is Sasak Muslims (Lombok’s indigenous people). Balinese Hindus are the largest minority ethnic group estimated for about 7 percent. The rest are Sumbawanese, Bugis Javanese, and Chinese. But in this paper we are not going to discuss about all differences in Lombok but only the main ethno-religious groups, the Sasaknese Muslims and Balinese Hindus.

Conflict between Sasaknese Muslims and Balinese Hindus was began since the Balinese conquest almost 300 years ago. Before the Balinese conquest, Lombok was divided into four major regions, each of which was ruled by a Sasak king: Pagesangan, pagutan, Mataram,and Cakranegara. Disunity among the local kingdoms was manipulated by the neighboring Balinese ruler, Anak Agung Ngurah, of East Bali. The Hindu-Balinese kings eventually became the new rulers of Lombok in the late 17th century after defeating the divided Sasak kingdoms. They mainly controlled the West and parts of North and Central Lombok from 1740 to 1894. After Dutch colonial forces toppled them that year, nearly all the remaining Balinese chose to stay in Lombok rather than sail back to their native island.

The 17th-century territorial conquests were not the only time of Balinese migration to Lombok. The eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 drove Balinese refugees from the eastern side of the island to Lombok as a safe haven. Today, Balinese families have been in Lombok for more than five generations and are fluent both Sasak and Balinese languages. They have lived alongside the Sasak for more than 270 years.

The Lombok Balinese predominantly continue to practice Hunduism, while Islam, of course, is the dominant religion of the Sasak. Both groups devote themselves to distinct religious ideas and events held according to their own specific lunar calendars. The Balinese appear to have integrated peacefully with the Sasak despite a violent history between them, and this is affirmed through an annual religious festival at Pura Lingsar Temple named Perang Topat (the Rice Cake War), held to symbolize Hindu – Islam tolerance. Perang Topat literally means a fight marked by the throwing of topat (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves) between fighters coming from different ethno-religious backgrounds: the Balinese and the Sasak. While Pura Lingsar, which is a half Hindu and a half Sasak Muslim Temple, becomes a shared sacred site during this yearly ceremony, with the Balinese and Sasak affirming their religious partnership by performing the ritual together.

This depicts that “Reconciliation and harmony between Balinese Hindus and indigenous Sasak Muslims on Lombok following a history of conflict comes down to one basic thing: throwing rice cake” is actually a very great example of pluralism as what Indonesia needs. The Lombok’s reconciliation and harmony is supposed to be considered by other regions in Indonesia in order to stitching a new and better Indonesia. Lombok is already evident that Bhineka Tunggal Ika is completely works in the real life. It is not just a motto. But the question is why other regions still so violent, in particular against religious minorities? [MSS]


source: Susetyo, Benny.(2012). Stitching Together A New Indonesia. Retrieved from Strategic Review: Indonesia’s search for Pluralism (ed. January-March 2013 vol.1).



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