Finger Cutting Tradition in Papua


There are many ways to express mourning, for instance in Papua, they have to sever their fingers to manifest mourning. The tradition  is quite strange. Because, beside they have to lost family members, they also lost their knuckles. Just like Yakuza tradition, a mafia organization in Japan,Yakuza gang would cut off one of the fingers of its members if they fail to carry out the mission.

Finger cuts made by Dani tribe, symbolizes sorrow and pain when losing a loved family member. In their beliefs, finger play a  vital role in doing many things. Each finger need to cooperate each other to build strength so the hands can function perfectly. If just loss  one finger, the work that we do, can not be maximum. For Dani, a finger can be interpreted as a symbol of harmony, unity, and strength in man as well as a family. So if one part disappears, then there goes the components together and diminished strength.

In addition to these philosophical reasons, Dani has basic guidelines adopted together, namely “Wene opakima dapulik welaikarek mekehasik” ​​or basic guidelines to live together in a family, a clan, a honai (home), one tribe, one ancestor, one language, one history / origin, and so on. Dani is clasped tightly together. So for them, the pain of bereaved loved ones will disappear, followed by healing finger.

The tradition of cutting a finger on Dani itself is done with a variety of a lot of ways, ranging from using sharp objects such as knives, axes or machetes. But other than that, some do by biting her knuckles to break up, tied with a rope so that the blood flow stops and knuckles be dead, then just be cutting a finger.

In addition to cutting the finger, there are also a mud bath tradition in mourning ceremonies. The mud bath is a symbol and the sense that everyone who died has been returned to nature. This is because every human being comes from the ground and will eventually return to the ground.

By : Stella Purnama Sari 016201200017

Sources :


A Random Thought

This is one example defining ‘what culture is’.


This is a simple way picturing ‘what culture is’.


This is me, writing randomly about ‘what culture is’. There are thousands of different cultures on Earth. And I believe culture is an imaginary concept. What I am wondering now, to what extent I belong to certain culture, for what reason I need to classify my culture, even why there can be any segmentation in society based on cultural or racial issue. Such a random paragraph.

Nelson Mandela once ever said, “no one is born hating another person because of color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.” We were born in peace without any hatred. 

So why we have to hate others, when love can be another choice?

What makes us different to one another? culture?

Perhaps. For me, what actually differentiates us is all inside our head. Perception.



IFS – 016201200079

“FINE” country


Can you figure out what has been called by “fine” city ? yes, it is Singapore. Everything seems fine, fine situation, facilities, and everything seems so much fine. This is one of fascination that they create as a dream country. Even it is small country that we are all know that this country has nothing actually, but they made those all beauty spot to be visited. Singapore is not a “cheap” country, as Indonesian, their currency is higher than ours but then, it seems so worthy to pay for. You may spent almost 500 dollars only for 2 or 3 days (of course included shopping). One of the thing that i want to tell is i am in love with this country. Not with all the shopping center or all great food but i love the atmosphere of safety. I can go anywhere by bus or MRT without feeling apprehensive. And another is their discipline rules. Everything is fine means when you do something wrong, you are going to be fine with paying FINE which is the penalty. They created the rule but with the soft ways in order to create the real understanding of people by using FINE words. That atmosphere makes me wants to go there rather choosing another country to be visited. I want to go overseas to see what happens out there and what they have but if i cannot, its really fine if i only visit Singapore for several days. Oh ya, i love one quotes that i found in the back of security’s Jacket in Mustafa Center that said “Low crimes does not means no crime”. It makes me still aware with everything around me but for sure, i still feeling everything just “fine”, nothing to be scared of. i love Indonesia with any uniqueness and so on, but I hope Indonesia can create the atmosphere like that, and i will really enjoy my country more rather than other country.


Harajuku Culture

The History of Harajuku

The Main Strip of Harajuku

Harajuku as it is now traces its roots to the end of World War II during the Allied occupation of Japan. U.S. soldiers and government civilians and their families lived in a nearby housing area called Washington Heights. It became an area where curious young people flocked to experience a different culture and stores in the area stocked goods marketed towards middle and upper class Japanese and Americans. In 1958, Central Apartments were built in the area and were quickly occupied by fashion designers, models, and photographers. In 1964, when the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo the Harajuku area was further developed, and the idea of “Harajuku” slowly began to take a more concrete shape.
After the Olympics the young people who hung out in the area, frequently referred to as the Harajuku-zoku, or the Harajuku tribe, began to develop a distinct culture and style unique to different groups and the area. From this distinct style grew the culture of Harajuku as a gathering ground for youths. The term “Harajuku Girls” has been used by English-language media to describe teenagers dressed in any fashion style who are in the area of Harajuku. This fashion infuses multiple looks and styles to create a unique form of dress. The cyber-punk look takes its influence from Gothic fashion and incorporates neon and metallic colors.

Harajuku Fashion

Harajuku fashion is the name of a certain style of dressing that is popular in Japan. There are various sub-categories and distinctions within the umbrella of Harajuku fashion. Rather than being one defined form of fashion it has a broad scope with distinct styles. Among the many different Harajuku looks is the elegant Gothic Lolita which has long been popular in the country. On the flip side you have the ultra modern looking punk Visual Kei (VisKei) that has been inspired by the local music scene especially punk and rock.

Gothic Lolita

Visual Kei – Shocking, I know.

The fashion gets its name from the place of its origin which is Harajuku. The Harajuku station is one place where you will be able to see just how crazy the youth are over this trend. The station basically serves as a stage where teens from all over the place gather around to show off their costumes. It seems as though you are at a costume party with the youth trying on different disguises in order to mimic their favorite personality whether that is a rock musician, anime character of something gothic.

The Harajuku fashion epicenter in Japan is Tokyo. Over here you will find the youth to be dressed up in amazingly vibrant clothing. It is all a matter of experimentation for the youth who utilize their creative instincts to mix and match different kinds of clothing to come up with something outlandish. The bizarre outfits are often accompanied with colored hair and various other fashion accessories.

The Neon Hairstyle

(Levi Daifani)


The Rice Cake War, The War for Peace…

“There will be no world peace without a religious peace”(Hans Kungs). Thestatement seems completely right, since two thirds of the world population belongs to religion, and religion with its religious values is a strong influencer of the world actors both State and Non-State Actors.

If we talk about culture differences in Indonesia, in each region of Indonesia have at least 5 different religions.  Including in Lombok, in this region also the religion of the citizen are different such as Catholic, Christian, Islam, Hindu, and Buddhist. In this part will be discussed about the interaction between Muslims and Hindus in one of traditional event that held once a year in Lombok. The name of the event is “Perang Topat” (the rice cake war).

The rice cake war is takes place each year at the Pura Lingsar Temple in West Lombok. Celebrated by both Hindus and Muslims together. It is an event preceded by weeks of prayer and preparation, in which the people come together to give thanks for their crops, and offer up cakes, fruit, buffalo and rice. Once the main offering is made, the participants take part in a three-night war, using rice as their main weapon. This “war” is meant to be a celebration of the harmony and friendship that has developed between the two religions in Lombok.[1]

Every year, Lingsar village engages in the Perang Topat at the Lingsar temple complex. The temple was built in 1759, during the reign of King Anak Agung Gede Ngurah, a descendant of the kings of Karangasem, Bali, who once ruled this part of Lombok. The temple complex is located 9 kilometers east of the provincial capital Mataram, and is considered unique. It hosts the aforementioned Gaduh temple and Kemaliq building, and is used for rituals and traditional ceremonies, both Hindu and Muslim. The two buildings stand side by side, and in front of each is a jabe or courtyard. Because of its uniqueness, the Lingsar temple complex has since the 1990s been declared a cultural conservation site.

The village holds its Perang Topat on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Lombok Sasak calendar, or purnama sasih kepitu (the full moon of the seventh month); in the Balinese Hindu calendar, this corresponds to the 15th day of the sixth month, or purnama sasi kenem (the full moon of the sixth month). On this night, Hindus celebrate odalan, or the anniversary of the founding of Lingsar village, by holding their pujawali ceremony.[2]

Meanwhile, the Muslims commemorate the epic journey of Raden Mas Sumilir, a Muslim scholar from Demak, Central Java, who brought Islam to Lombok in the 15th century. Since midday, community members have gathered at the Lingsar temple complex. At Gaduh temple, the Hindus prepare banten, or offerings, for the prayers to pujawali. Over at the Kemaliq, the Muslims prepare kebon odek, offerings in the form of fruit and vegetables. Rather, this tradition, which has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years in Lingsar village in West Lombok regency, is re-enacted to strengthen harmony between Muslim and Hindu communities. Battles are usually synonymous with anger and violence, a physical clash between two parties in dispute. But the Perang Topat in Lombok, which involves hundreds of people from two different religions, is an event that gives no impression at all of being hideous or hateful.[3]


[1] retrieved from: (July 17, 2014).

[2] Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, West Lombok | Life | Fri, January 22 2010.

[3] Ibid

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).


Material & Symbolic Aspect of Conflict

in the case of The Southern Thailand Conflict or well known as ‘Unrest in Southern Thailand’, just for brief background, that the former Sultanate of Pattani was conquered by the Thais in 1785 and has been governed by them ever since. The Thai ownership was confirmed by the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. The majority population in the region is Muslim (Malay ethnic). Actually, low level separatist violence has occurred in the region for decades, but the insurgency escalated in 2004, occasionally spilling over into other provinces.

What is the material aspect of the conflict? The material aspect is that, the conflict was caused by the discrimination in terms of political and educational rights towards Malay Muslims. Firstly in terms of political rights, by the late 1990s, Malay Muslims were holding unprecedentedly senior posts in Thai politics, for example with Wan Muhammad Nor Matha (a Malay Muslim from Yala) serving as Chairman of Parliament from 1996 to 2001 and later Interior Minister during the first Thaksin government. Thaksin’s first government (2001–2005) also saw 14 Muslim Members of Parliament (MPs) and several Muslim senators. Muslims dominated provincial legislative assemblies in the border provinces, and several southern municipalities had Malay Muslim mayors. Malay Muslims were able to voice their political grievances more openly and enjoy a much greater degree of religious freedom. However, the Thaksin regime began to dismantle the southern administration organization and replaced it with a notoriously corrupt police force which immediately began widespread crackdowns. Consultation with local community leaders was also abolished. Discontent over the abuses led to growing violence during 2004 and 2005. Muslim politicians and leaders remained silent out of fear of repression, thus eroding their political legitimacy and support. This cost them dearly. In the 2005 general election, all but one of the eleven incumbent Malay Muslim MPs who stood for election were voted out of office. Secondly in term of educational rights, Malay Muslims in the border provinces generally have lower levels of educational attainment compared to their Buddhist neighbors. 69.80% of the Malay Muslim population in the border provinces have only a primary school education, compared to 49.6% of Buddhists in the same provinces. Only 9.20% of Malay Muslims have completed secondary education (including those who graduated from private Islamic schools), compared to 13.20% of Buddhists. Just 1.70% of the Malay Muslim population has a bachelor’s degree, while 9.70% of Buddhists hold undergraduate degrees. However, one must keep in mind that government schools are taught only in Thai, and there is resentment and even outright pulling of children out of Thai-language schools. The lesser educated Malay Muslims also have reduced employment opportunities compared to their Buddhist neighbors. Government officials comprised only 2.4% of all working Malay Muslims in the provinces, compared with 19.2% of all working Buddhists. Jobs in the Thai public sector are difficult to obtain for those Malay Muslims who never fully accepted the Thai language or the Thai education system.[1]

By considering those kinds of discrimination, it is hardly surprising if PULO (Pattani United Liberation Organisation) wants the Malay Muslim-majority southernmost provinces to secede from Thailand or at least will be given some level of regional autonomy.[2]

What is the symbolic aspect of the conflict? The conflict is caused by the discrimination over identity or values of Malay Muslim. As already mentioned and elaborated in the material aspect that Buddhist is more priority than Malay Muslim. This case is such a huge discrimination over identity/ values/ race. Thus, it is not surprisingly if PULO demands an end to perceived discrimination by Thailand, recognition of their unique culture and justice for a litany of alleged abuses by Thai security forces.[3]

What is the relational aspect of the conflict? The conflict happened because of the bad social networks of the leadership. The leaders (in the reign of Thaksin Shinawatra) cannot control his sub-ordinates including his people particularly minority society. His policy even discriminates the minority society in Thailand (the Malay Muslims), “Malay Muslims previously were able to voice their political grievances more openly and enjoy a much greater degree of religious freedom. However, the Thaksin regime began to dismantle the southern administration organization and replaced it with a notoriously corrupt police force which immediately began widespread crackdowns”. This phenomena evident Thaksin hierarchical and heterarchical relations (social network) at the time was really bad which cannot control and maintain states’ stability which resulted in southern insurgency against the government.

But how those three aspects relate or influence each other? The case above actually already shows the connection between those three aspects. The conflict firstly was rooted in the ‘Thaksin bad relations’ with his people.   That bad relations is might be caused by the psychological factors of Thaksin who has desire to diminished the Malay Muslim identity or values involvement in government. Then, the Thaksin regime began to dismantle the southern administration organization and replaced it with a notoriously corrupt police force. That policy evident the main cause of the conflict is about gaining power.

Thus, basically a conflict is caused by material aspects – the desire to get absolute power – which then resulted in the ‘minority identity or values’ discrimination. The discrimination thing, off course, led the destruction over relations between people. [MSS]


[1] 2013). South Thailand Insurgency. [online]. Available:

[2] 28, 2013). The Deep Roots of Thailand’s Southern Insurgency. [online]. Available:

[3] 28, 2013). The Deep Roots of Thailand’s Southern Insurgency. [online]. Available:

Why applying cultural understanding and sensitivity ?

Our world is full of diversity including cultural diversity. We all agree that American culture is different with Egyptian as well as Indonesian culture different with Korean, even every region in Indonesia has its own culture. Those facts reveal that our world society is very heterogeneous and high level of plurality. The consequence is that the relation between people is much easier involving in conflict. Thus, cultural understanding and sensitivity in our relations with the other people is really needed in order to avoids conflict and live in harmony.

For instance, in a really simple case – in Russian Federation, vodka drunk without mixture including ice. But, Russian peoples only mix vodka with beer once they want to give a sign that they want to make friends. And if we are offered it to drink, we have to drink it. But if we reject it, it means a humiliation for them.[1]

Concerning this Russian culture, what if a Russian meets with a Religious people (let’s say from Egypt) and give him vodka mixed beer, but the Religious men reject it. So what will happen? Conflict is inevitable, unless the Egyptian has sense of cultural understanding and the Russian has the sense of sensitivity, so that both sides can understand each other – the Egyptian do not need to drink the mixed vodka and the Russian do not need to feel humiliated.

Besides that, not understand and not sensitive to others culture will cause ineffective relations between people. Misunderstanding is so often occur in inter-personal relations which have different culture background.

For instance, in a banquet session, Koreans may eat the meal after all the older people and people who respected already started to eat first. They also should not be raised bowl of rice and soup of the table. They must use a long spoon to pick it up and use chopsticks to pick up side dishes. Precedes parents and raised a bowl on the dining table is considered as rude, also drink by facing older people is not polite. When we offered a drink by parents, we have to accept it with two hands as a respect. Then, turn the other way to sip the drinks without sound.

Concerning this Korean culture, if I go to Korea for the first time without understand the Korean culture, off course it will be a serious problem for me. Let’s say I have invited to have dinner with my Korean friend and his family and unfortunately, my friend forget to inform me the rule of Korean. Suddenly, I just do what I am not supposed to in an innocent way, off course, this moment makes them think that I am not polite at all which will drives them to see me with one eye or even to dislike me.

That kind of misunderstanding is what we need to avoids by understanding others culture and having the sense of sensitive which will makes us more aware about others culture, so that the relationship in friendship and even in business activities can go very well. [MSS]


[1] 3, 2012). Etiket Makan Di Berbagai Negara. [online]. Available: