Lombok and Beyond
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People And Tradition

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A HINDU CREMATION IN LOMBOK
The Balinese people are the descendants of the Hindu Majapahit Empire, which was based in modern day central Java. When Islam began to take hold throughout most of Indonesia, some 500-600 years ago, they fled to Bali, taking with them their cultural beliefs. Slowly over many years, some of them migrated to Lombok, mainly inhabiting what is now the Mataram and Cakranegara area, where they make up 10-15% of the approximate 3 million population of the island.

Hindus cremate their dead and consign their ashes to the sea, so that their souls may continue their journey to paradise. A cremation is regarded as a happy, family occasion rather than one of mourning, although often tears can be seen among some of the family members. The ceremony is called ngaben, literally “cremation” in the Balinese language, and it is one of the most spectacular traditions that can be seen on the islands of Bali and Lombok.

The body, after ritual washing, is wrapped in white cloth and placed high up on the funeral bier under a large ornate white umbrella. The bier or wadah – an ornate tall wooden structure resembling one of the ornate gateposts seen outside some Hindu temples – is decorated with glittering metallic paper cut out in various Balinese designs. Usually a barong mask with large bulbous eyes, or a large figure of Garuda (the mythical bird and Indonesia’s coat-of-arms), decorates the back of the bier. This structure is mounted on a platform of criss-crossed bamboo poles lashed together, and by means of which the bier is carried in the procession.

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COMMUNITY GOTONG ROYONG
Local residents, employees and business people took to the streets to clean up their area of town. The Sheraton staff were out in force, unblocking drains and cleaning mud off the road to be loaded into a truck donated by Manna Kebun.

Once again, Asmara staff did more than their share, together with tenants from the Galeria and nearby shops, trying to clean up the poorly maintained shopping complex, which seems to have become a dumping area for a local hotel.

This month’s gotong royong even attracted the attention of the Camat (District Head) from Batu Layar and the Kepala Desa (Village Head) of Senggigi, who lent a hand in the cleanup and provided a truck to help with transporting the rubbish.

Iwan and Sakinah from Asmara Restaurant are responsible for starting the monthly gotong royong in Senggigi, although the cleanup days don’t personally benefit their business and all the costs are paid by them. Rather, they started the ball rolling out of frustration at the bad condition of the streets and the poor image of Senggigi.

Knowing that the government and local authorities wouldn’t do anything about it, they decided to take matters into their own hands by setting an example and encouraging neighbours to join them in cleaning up the town.

Their initiative has been very successful, with the main street being cleaned from the Galeria north to the Sheraton during this month’s cleanup. However, the south part of Senggigi is very poorly presented and we hope that more people in these areas will get involved next month. The Lombok Guide will publish the date of the next gotong royong prior to the event.

Culture in Lombok
Greetings and Civilities
Sasak does not have greetings such as "Good Morning". A Sasak approaching a friend might ask, in the local language, " How are you?, How's your family?" simply as a form of greeting. Locals will frequently ask foreigners like this in English (it may be their only English!) as a greeting. Don't get annoyed - they are just trying to be polite. A smile and a "hello", or greeting in Indonesian, is a polite and adequate response.

Castes
Unlike the Muslims in general, the Sasak in Northern and west Lombok have a caste system. There are four caste castes, the highest being Datu for men and Denek Bini for women, the second Raden for men, and Denda for women, the third Buling and the fourth Jajar Karang. In Central and East Lombok, Lalu for men and Lale for women.

Traditional Culture
Traditional law (adat) is still fundamental to the way of life on Lombok today, particularly customs relating to courting and marriage rituals and circumcision ceremonies. In western Lombok you can see Balinese ceremonies and temples with colorful procession and decorative offerings. Sasak ceremonies are often less visible, though you may see colorful procession as well. Ask around and you can probably find when and where festivals and celebrations are being held.

For further information and reservation please contact:
A&T Holidays:
Jl. Gelatik 7D, Cakranegara 83231
Lombok - Indonesia
Phone: +62 370 640107 – 108 / (0370) 646888  (hunting) | Fax: +62 370 634533
Email : reservation@lombokandbeyond.com

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