Indonesia Travel Guide – Being an archipelagic country, Indonesia is bestowed with splendid natural beauty. A sizable number of ethnic groups also contribute to creating myriads of culture in Indonesia, making it more attractive to learn. Ranging from traditional houses, clothes, food, ceremonies, and many others, learning about the culture Indonesia has will not only broaden your knowledge but also inculcate love to the country.
- 1 The uniqueness of Traditional Houses in Indonesia
- 1.1 Krong Bade House, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam
- 1.2 Bolon House, North Sumatera
- 1.3 Gadang House, West Sumatera
- 1.4 Baduy House, Banten
- 1.5 Sunda House, West Java
- 1.6 Joglo, Central Java
- 1.7 Bangsal Kencono, Yogyakarta
- 1.8 Gapura Candi Bentar, Bali
- 1.9 Dalam Loka, West Nusa Tenggara
- 1.10 Tongkonan, South Sulawesi
- 1.11 Honai, Papua
- 2 Graceful Culture Wrapped in Traditional Dances
- 3 Myriad Ethnic Groups in One Nation
- 4 Indonesians Have Attractive Folk Songs
- 5 Traditional Music Instruments You Can Find in Indonesia
- 6 Diverse Traditional Ceremonies with Load of Meanings
- 7 Fancy Traditional Clothes Worn by Indonesians
- 8 6 Religions Acknowledged in Indonesia
- 9 Traditional Culture Show from Indonesia to the World
- 10 Palatable Indonesian Dishes
- 11 Legends and Folk Stories behind Places
The uniqueness of Traditional Houses in Indonesia
Indonesia currently consists of 34 provinces, each of which has traditional houses with specific architecture and purposes. Most of the traditional houses represent the customs of each ethnics inhabiting the provinces. Here are distinctive houses provinces in Indonesia that you should know:
Krong Bade House, Nangroe Aceh Darussalam
The traditional house from the westernmost province in Indonesia is designed with a raised platform. The purpose is to avoid flood or attack of wild animals. Today, Krong Bade house is rather hard to find for it requires high expenses to build the house.
Bolon House, North Sumatera
Batak ethnic group who inhabit North Sumatera possess Bolon traditional house. It adopts raised platform with an arched rooftop which makes it easily recognized. There are some kinds of Bolon house such as Bolon Pakpak, Bolon Toba, and many others.
Gadang House, West Sumatera
The traditional house of Minangkabau ethnic group is called Gadang which has three pointed rooftops that resemble a horn. Due to its attractive architecture, the inhabitants tend to preserve this traditional house. Public offices of locality usually adopt Gadang house to preserve the culture.
Baduy House, Banten
Baduy is one of the ethnic groups in Indonesia. They tend to preserve the natural way of life and stay away from modernity. Badui house is evident in their wisdom to live harmoniously with nature. The house is commonly made from bamboo and reeds or grass roof.
Sunda House, West Java
The raised platform house has a distinctive architecture with wooden or bamboo pillars. Local people usually use the house to store their crops and livestock animals. However, modern people slowly leave the house and prefer ones with modern architecture.
Joglo, Central Java
Up to this moment, Joglo traditional house can be found easily in Central Java. The house has a simple architecture with a large hall, wooden pillars, and a tile roof. Joglo house consists of several parts ranging from veranda, hall, longkang, and pawon (kitchen). The large hall is sometimes used to carry out communal meeting.
Bangsal Kencono, Yogyakarta
The traditional house is known as the king’s and the noble’s house. The architecture looks similar to Joglo house with different design of the roof. Today, Bangsal Kencono traditional house is quite rare and may only be found in Keraton (Yogyakarta Palace).
Gapura Candi Bentar, Bali
Bali is well known for its culture and set of customs. Gapura Candi Bentar is one of the embodiments of their culture since it has unique architecture. As the other Balinese architecture, this traditional house comes with gapura (gate) and typical cravings.
Dalam Loka, West Nusa Tenggara
The house consists of two main rooms that are large and tall. The distinctive architecture of the house makes it look unique. Dalam Loka is only dwelled by the chief.
Tongkonan, South Sulawesi
The architecture of Tongkonan house is easily noticeable as it has an arched rooftop with small size. Tongkonan is commonly used to store human corpse. Local people believe that dead people are not actually dead—they only move to another life. This is why they give a proper house for the dead.
The house is built from wood and reeds, making it looks traditional and natural. Honai that resembles giant mushrooms commonly does not have windows. The purpose to eliminate windows and fissure is to keep the temperature warm inside the house. Considering the local people choose to inhabit hills and mountains with low temperature, this house keeps them warm.
Graceful Culture Wrapped in Traditional Dances
When it comes to Indonesian culture, traditional dance is a thing you should not miss. The dances represent the country’s diversity of cultures and ethnicities. There are no less than 300 traditional dances in Indonesia, some of which are more popular than the others.
Ethnic groups such as Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese have a distinctive traditional dance that reflect the cultures and set of customs of each group. The dances commonly tell specific stories related to human’s life, human’s relationship to god, and human’s relationship to nature. Here are some popular traditional dances Indonesia has:
The traditional dance comes from Aceh, particularly Gayo ethnic group. Saman dance is commonly performed to celebrate important events in Aceh. Interestingly, UNESCO has listed Saman dance as one of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2011.
As the most well-known traditional dance from Bali, Kecak is performed by 70 men making a large circle. The dance tells a story of Ramayana that reflects the Hinduism culture it brings. Interestingly, Kecak is also known as fire dance for it includes fire in each performance.
Reog is a traditional dance from East Java that includes a leading figure known as Singa Barong. The lion-like creature is magical, represented by Singa Barong mask made from tiger head skin and peafowl feathers.
Often performed to welcome important person, Pendet is one of Bali traditional dances that reflects their happiness to welcome god and goddess from heaven. Pendet dance has complicated movement and includes the whole body parts such as fingers, necks, hands, and eyes.
The traditional dance originated from West Java is known as the fusion of pencak silat (traditional martial art), ketuk tilu, and wayang golek. The dance has become an icon of West Java and is sometimes performed to welcome important person to the region. However, Jaipong also includes erotic and vulgar movement that makes it a controversial dance.
A popular traditional dance from West Sumatera includes piring (plates) as its property, from which the dance receives its name. Piring Dance is an embodiment of people’s gratitude to god and goddess that have given abundant crops. The uniqueness of Piring Dance is the rapid movement of the dancers who hold plates without even falling.
Bedaya Dance, Yogyakarta
Unlike the previously mentioned, Bedaya Dance involves slow and graceful movements of its performers that consists of 9 females. Bedaya traditional dance is related to the mythical lady known as Queen of the South Sea or Nyi Roro Kidul. It was said that Bedaya is a symbol of love from the Queen to her husband, the King of Mataram.
As the name suggests, Kipas Pakarena involves the use of kipas (paper or fabric fans). The performers that consist of 5 to 7 females move elegantly with colorful fans on their hands. Beautiful and attractive clothes also become a center point of this performance. Kipas Pakarena itself symbolizes the story of human beings and divine figures.
Myriad Ethnic Groups in One Nation
Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) is the national motto of Indonesia. It represents how Indonesia is a large, diverse country but it remains one nation. Among many factors that contribute to the diversity of cultures and customs is an ethnic group. This is what makes culture Indonesia diverse.
There are no less than 300 ethnicities in the country, with Javanese as the largest group. Each group typically inhabit a specific island or region. For instance, Batak ethnic group inhabits North Sumatera while Dayak ethnic group live peacefully in West Kalimantan.
Among hundreds of ethnic groups that you can find in Indonesia, here are some of big groups that spread across the nation:
Batak ethnic group
Most of the Batak ethnicity inhabits North Sumatera and Tapanuli. They are divided into some subgroups known as Batak Toba, Batak Mandailing, Batak Pakpak, and Batak Karo. Batak ethnicity is commonly related to strong character and hard-working nature.
Malay ethnic group
Another large ethnic group in Indonesia inhabits Bangka Belitung, which is known as Malay ethnicity. The group spreads to neighboring regions such as Jambi, Riau, South Sumatera, even West Kalimantan. This ethnic group received its name from the Malay Kingdom that has transited in Batang Hari river.
Javanese is the largest ethnic group in Indonesia, covering 40 percent of total populations in the country in 2011. The ethnicity mostly inhabits Java Island, particularly Yogyakarta and Central Java. However, the ethnic group also spread to other regions such as Bengkulu, Lampung, Kalimantan, North Sumatera, and Riau. Javanese people are known to preserve their culture and customs.
Sundanese is the second largest ethnic group, reaching 15 percent of total populations. Most Sundanese populates Banten and West Java, while some others spread throughout the country. Sunda ethnicity is well known for its musical instrument called angklung.
Baduy ethnic group
From Banten, there is a unique ethnicity known as Baduy. The group is rather conservative for they refuse any modernity including electricity, transportations and other modern aspects. This makes Baduy an attractive ethnic group for some researchers.
Betawi ethnic group
Betawi ethnicity populates Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. This group is known as hybrid ethnicity because many of them married to Indians, Arabians, and Dutch. However, some Betawi people tend to preserve their pure blood by only marry to Betawi.
Dayak ethnic group
Among other ethnic groups, Dayak is famous for its courage to hunt and fight. Most of them live in Central Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan.
Minahasa ethnic group
The largest ethnicity in Sulawesi inhabits Mongondow, Gorontalo, Talaud, and Ternate. Minahasa ethnic group has an interesting culture and set of customs that make this ethnicity well-recognized. One of which is traditional clothes with red fabric that they use a belt.
Indonesian people notice Madurese as the best satay maker. The ethnic group inhabits Madura, East Java, and Central Java. The population of Madurese reached 20 million in 2014.
The ethnic group that populates the easternmost of Indonesia is Asmat from Papua. Asmat is famous for its specialty in hunting. Asmat population is divided into two main groups, those who inhabit the coastal area and those who live in the forest and hills.
Indonesians Have Attractive Folk Songs
The next culture Indonesia is a traditional song. Living in a beautiful country with mesmerizing natural beauty and cultural diversity makes Indonesian people get abundant inspirations to create a variety of songs. Being known as folk songs, each region presents diverse traditional songs that can be enjoyed by local people or the international world.
Most of the Indonesian folk songs symbolize love and happiness to live in this country. While some of them have deep meaning, some others are jolly songs. Combined with traditional music instruments, these folk songs are worth-listening.
Anak Kambing Saya
The playful song is commonly sung by two people or groups as it contains questions and answers. Coming from East Nusa Tenggara, Anak Kambing Saya is a popular children song that is quite simple and fun. In some occasion, the lyrics are rearranged according to the condition.
Ampar-Ampar Pisang is a folk song from South Kalimantan. It tells a story of making traditional food from banana, by the way, the banana is arranged (ampar), then it is let to be almost ripe. Then the banana is dried in the sun that it becomes hardened in texture and give out the sweet smell. The song is commonly sung by children while dancing.
Recognized as Betawi’s folk song, Jali-Jali is often sung together with a traditional music instrument, gambang kromong. Jali-Jali itself is the name of a shrub commonly found in their yard. The fruit is made as a toy from rubber bands and bamboo.
Rasa Sayange is in the upbeat folk song that makes you dance. The song is originated from Maluku, symbolizing the affection of someone to the other. Rasa Sayange is also a children song that has been sung through generations, not only among Maluku people but Indonesians as a whole. There are many versions of Rasa Sayange because the lyric can be rearranged as you like it.
Originated from Central Java, the song is believed to be arranged by Sunan Kalijaga. Gundul Pacul, apart from its funny lyrics, contains deep meaning related to human’s life.
Traditional Music Instruments You Can Find in Indonesia
Not only does Indonesia have attractive dances and folk songs, but local wisdom is also represented by diverse traditional music instruments. Over 50 traditional music Instruments are known in the country, providing distinctive sound to accompany traditional dances and songs or played alone.
Most of the instruments are made from natural materials such as wood and animal skin. This symbolizes local wisdom that is upheld by Indonesians. The followings are several music instruments originated from Indonesia:
Angklung is a traditional instrument made of bamboo with distinctive and diverse sound production. Originated from West Java, angklung has been recognized by the international world for its uniqueness. To play this instrument, you have to use your two hands and shake the instrument to produce sound. Though it looks simple, playing angklung is actually complicated because you have to mind the rhythm.
A set of music instruments originated from Central Java produces idiophone type of sound. Gamelan is predominantly made up of percussive instruments. The set consists of kendhang, metallophones, rebab, bamboo flutes, xylophone, and gangsa. Played together, gamelan produces attractive music to accompany the vocalist known as sindhen.
Sasando is a stringed instrument from Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara. This is commonly made from bamboo placed in woven palm leaves. Strings are stretched in the long tubular bamboo, allowing the player to play the instrument by plucking with both hands. The number of the string depends on the type of Sasando itself, can be 28 strings, 56 strings, and even 84 strings.
Gambus, a traditional music instrument originated from Riau produces Chordophone sound which comes from its strings. This instrument has various numbers of string ranging from 3 to 12 strings. The instrument is usually played together with gendang.
Gendang is a typical instrument from Melayu. Indonesia has several types of gendang with a variety of forms. For instance, gendang originated from Yogyakarta has a different shape when compared to gendang from Bangka Belitung and Riau Island which is slightly thinner and longer.
Saluang is a traditional flute comes from Minangkabau, West Sumatera. It is commonly made from bamboo with some holes to produce sound. To play the instrument, blow the flute and use your fingers to close the holes and produce sound as you want.
Diverse Traditional Ceremonies with Load of Meanings
The picturesque scenery is not the only attractive things that you can find in Indonesia. Traditional ceremonies are also fascinating, describing the local wisdom strongly upheld by Indonesians. Most of the ceremonies are correlated to the cultural diversity and customs, while some of them are related to the religion of the indigenous.
In fact, the uniqueness of Indonesian traditional ceremony contributes to the high percentage of tourist visits. Not few of them fly from their countries only to witness the value of Indonesian culture represented in the ceremonies. Here are several traditional celebrations to witness in Indonesia.
Embracing Hinduism makes Balinese possess distinctive cultural ceremonies than the other regions, one of which is ngaben. It is a cremation ceremony where a dead body will be cremated in a hand-made cow statue. The statue is brought to the top of a tower called bade. Balinese believe that the higher social state, the higher tower is, symbolizing the closer they are to heaven.
Ngaben is one of the most attractive and expensive traditional ceremonies. Due to the high expense, this ceremony is quite rare as the family of the deceased have to collect money for years.
Another unique ceremony dedicated to the deceased is Rambu Solo. As a burial ceremony, a sequence of cultural agendas are involved, ranging from body wrapping, coffin decorating, marching, and placing the coffin to Lakkian, a special area in Tana Toraja. This makes Rambu Solo an attractive moment that should not be missed.
Ma’nene is actually a continuance of Rambu Solo ceremony. This is held once in three years, usually in August with a purpose to change the clothes of the dead body. The preserved corpse will be cleaned from head to toe and dressed.
The cultural celebration originated from South-east Sulawesi is a religious ceremony held to celebrate the circumcision of a boy. A day after circumcision, the boy will be dressed in traditional clothes and carried in one of the family’s shoulders to meet the priest.
Aruh Baharin comes from South Kalimantan. The ceremony is held for 7 days and nights as a way to express gratitude to God for abundant crops and success in trade and fishing. Aruh Baharin is not an annual ceremony for it is celebrated once in 3 or 5 years. And yet, Aruh Baharin can attract a lot of attention.
Originated from Flores, Etu is a ceremony that involves boxing competition. The match is commonly carried out in a field and is watched by local people of Nakageo. A day before the competition, each participant will join a ritual in order to get strength from the spirits. Etu is also able to attract tourist attention.
Fancy Traditional Clothes Worn by Indonesians
There are so many choices when it comes to Indonesian traditional clothes. The country consists of 34 provinces, each of which presents distinctive traditional clothes which symbolize cultural diversity that goes in line with local wisdom.
Traditional dresses are typically worn on a special occasions such as weddings and traditional ceremonies. Interestingly, some clothes are only purposed for royal families. Though some modifications are already made to the dresses, original clothes remain preserved by the indigenous for it has deep meaning and symbolization.
Ulee Balang comes from Nangroe Aceh Darussalam. The traditional dresses are specially made for the royal families and are only worn on a certain occasion. Female clothes are dominated by red while male clothes are dominated by black. According to the tradition of Aceh, black symbolizes majesty. Both male and female also wear a fascinating hat with a certain meaning, too.
Among others, Kebaya is the most worn as it is the national costumes of Indonesian women. Originated from Central Java, Kebaya is combined with traditional fabric with batik pattern. There are a variety of batik patterns inspired from nature, both plants and animals. Kebaya can also be combined with songket cloth.
Ulos is traditional clothes from North Sumatera. Local people believe ulos has a magical power that can affect the wearer. This explains why ulos is only used on certain occasions such as weddings or traditional ceremonies.
Inspired by Sriwijaya Kingdom once ruling the province, aesan gede from South Sumatera is dominated by red and gold that symbolize glory. Both male and female use mahkota gede (crowns) which are quite heavy. Today, traditional clothes are only used for the wedding ceremony.
Compared to the other traditional clothes, pesa’an comes with the simplest design. The clothes from East Java consists of a t-shirt with red and white stripes and loose pants for male. Meanwhile, the female wears kebaya with similar patterns. Especially for Madurese, pesa’an for a male is used in daily life.
Bali traditional clothes
Bali has a variety of traditional dresses purposed for different occasion. Each of them has specific designs, symbols, and ornaments. The clothes are distinguished into sexes, ages, and purposes. The patterns and designs also indicate the social state in society.
Traditional war attire
West Kalimantan has unique traditional clothes that have been worn since long time ago. Interestingly, the clothes are known as the attire of war. It is made from the bark of ampuro wood that is processed into fabric, creating a distinctive dress for male and female. To make the clothes, bark of ampuro wood is beaten to soften the texture. To get the best result, it should be done in the water.
Traditional clothes of Central Sulawesi is similar to one possessed by Javanese. The clothes are commonly used for a wedding ceremony or other kinds of a traditional ceremony. The male wears a square top with round neck.
Papua traditional clothes
Traditional clothes of Papua looks similar for male and female. Set of traditional clothes include head decoration resembles cenderawasih (bird of paradise), necklace, and skirt-like tassel. Traditional spears and shield also complement traditional clothes.
6 Religions Acknowledged in Indonesia
Despite of having the largest Muslim population, Indonesia acknowledges 6 religions—Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. However, Indonesian communities still uphold traditional beliefs inherited from their ancestors. Though traditional beliefs are not officially acknowledged, some communities do practices dynamism and animism.
Islam is the most embraced religion as it covers up to 87 percent of the total population, despite of the fact that some of its embracers are not good practitioners. Indonesian Muslims do celebrate special days of Eid Fitri, Eid Adha, Islamic New Year, Isra’ Miraj (ascension of Prophet Muhammad) and the birth of Prophet Muhammad.
Holy Quran is the holy book of Muslims and most of Indonesians are able to read, even memorize the book. The mosque is the place of worship for Muslims and Indonesia has abundant of mosques, especially in localities dominated by Muslims.
The second-largest religion in Indonesia is Protestantism that reaches up to 6.9 percent of the total population. Though Protestantism spreads throughout Indonesia, they are majorly found in the eastern part of Indonesia. Jesus Christ is believed as the savior who redeems the sins of sons and daughters of Adam.
There are four holidays known in Protestantism – Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. Bible is the holy book that is followed and learned by the believers, while the church is the place of worship for them.
Catholicism becomes the third largest religion embraced in Indonesia and believes in Jesus Christ and celebrate the same holidays as Protestantism, which are Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Ascension of Jesus Christ. They also have a similar holy book, the Bible.
Bali is the locality dominated by Hinduism with a percentage of 1.69% of the total population. A Shrine can be found easily in this region—each house has its own shrine, allowing Balinese to offer worship without leaving the house. The Vedas is believed as ancient and sacred texts of Hindu religion. The book is written in Sanskrit and is followed by Hindus in their daily life.
In a year, Balinese Hindus have at least 3 holidays known as Nyepi (Day of Silence) that is celebrated every Saka New Year, Sarasvati, and Pagerwesi. On the Day of Silence, all Balinese Hindus stay at home and avoid three things—light, joy, and travel. This is quite interesting as there are custom polices called Pecalang who keep Bali in silence for the day.
Buddha is a minor religion in Indonesia with only 0.72% of the total population. The religion brought by Siddharta Gautama has been known since 2500 years ago and becomes one of the earliest religions in Indonesia. Kingdoms such as Kutai and Tarumanegara embrace Buddha before their extinction.
Today, Buddhists in Indonesia visit Vihara to offer worship. They have a holy book known as Tripitaka (Pali Canon), an ancient scripts used by Buddhists in their daily life. Indonesian Buddhists have at least 3 holidays—Vesak, Asadha, and Kathina.
Kong Hu Cu (Confucianism)
Though Confucianism is an ancient belief that has been brought since 2500 years ago, Indonesia did not officially acknowledge the religion before the regime of Gus Dur. Confucians follow Si Shu Wu Ching ancient scripts as their guidance in daily life.
Temple is the place of worship for this belief and it is sometimes concentrated in certain localities. Indonesian Confucians celebrate at least 2 holidays—Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh.
Traditional Culture Show from Indonesia to the World
Cultural and custom diversities are also presented in the form of performances. Over hundreds of cultural shows are known, some of them are internationally recognized. Indonesian artists are inspired by bestowed natural beauty, local wisdom, history, and many others to present priceless arts and performances.
This Balinese dance and art performance have been brought to the international world. Deep moral value wrapped in interesting movement and music drama makes Kecak an incredible art performance. Telling a story of Ramayana, the dance is primarily performed by men. The most eye-catching figure in the performance is Singa Barong who wears a horrible mask with fierce acts.
Another interesting part of Kecak is the chorus Chak Chak pronounced by the performers. It is followed by arms movement in the air, symbolizing the war between Ravana’s demons and Rama’s monkeys.
Wayang kulit is a traditional show originated in India and is adopted by Indonesians. The shadow puppet comes in distinct forms such as Wayang Beber, Wayang Golek, Wayang Wong, Wayang Topeng, and many others.
Wayang does not only offer entertainment but also lessons and rituals. It mainly tells stories of the Ramayana, though sometimes the Dalang (shadow artists) modify the story as they like. Wayang Kulit is performed by projecting the puppet and results in shadow. The artist moves the puppets and brings them to life.
Also known as Ramayana Ballet, it becomes one of the most spectacular and incredible culture shows in Indonesia, particularly Yogyakarta. Usually carried out in the open theatre of Prambanan temple, the performance visualizes Ramayana story. Though it is called Ramayana Ballet, it does not perform Western ballet with tutu dress and graceful movements. Instead, it looks similar to Wayang Orang.
Ondel-Ondel is another fascinating cultural show to enjoy in Indonesia. The giant doll costume originated in Jakarta, created by the ethnic group of Betawi. Ondel-Ondel is usually performed in wedding ceremonies, carnivals, or traditional festivals. The dolls consist of male and female and are dressed in fancy clothes. The performers move the dolls from the inside.
Palatable Indonesian Dishes
Indonesia has countless choices when it comes to traditional dishes. Blessed with prosperous land, the archipelago is home to herbs and spices that make any dishes savory and palatable. Even though Indonesian dishes may taste too strong for foreigners, the food brings distinct sensation that cannot be found in any place else.
The traditional dish originated in West Sumatera has ever been crowned as the tastiest dish in the world. Though it comes from West Sumatera, rendang has become national food. Made from fresh meat, rendang is processed by cooking the meat with coconut milk, herbs, and spices for hours. Slow cooking results in a tender texture and spicy meat.
Pempek is a traditional dish made from sago powder blended together with fish meat and eggs. The recipes come from South Sumatera and have become Indonesian’s favorite dish. Pempek has a chewy texture with a strong taste of fish meat. Served together with vinegar sauce, Pempek becomes one of the best traditional dishes Indonesia has.
Originated in Yogyakarta, the traditional dish is identical with a sweet taste. The traditional dish is made from young jackfruit that is cooked with coconut milk and is processed for hours. The long process makes this dish has a soft texture. Gudeg is best served with rice, eggs, and areh (coconut milk sauce).
Konro Soup is a traditional dish of South Sulawesi and has spread throughout Indonesia. This soup is made from ribs that are processed for hours to ensure its soft texture and to allow the herbs and spices absorbed by the meat. This is best served with savory brown broth.
As the name suggests, this dish is made from ayam (chicken). The traditional dish from West Nusa Tenggara is palatable and has soft texture as it is processed for hours. The chicken is roasted along with spices such as chili, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and local herbs. Ayam taliwang is best served with plecing kangkung (sautéed morning glory).
Legends and Folk Stories behind Places
Having ancestors with animism and dynamism beliefs make Indonesia rich in legends and folk stories. Natural phenomena such as earthquakes or eruptions are not enough to explain the creation of certain places. Indonesians believe that there are mythical stories behind landmarks or places such as lake, mount, or temples.
Legend of Toba Lake
The most popular legend among Indonesians is the forming of Toba Lake. It is told that Batara Guru caught a fish. The fish then turned into a beautiful woman and they got married in one condition, the man should not mention anything about her secret. A son was born from the marriage and one day, Batara Guru was mad at the child and get the word ‘fish child’ to the son.
The fish woman was annoyed because her husband broke his promise. The earth began to shake and formed a big hole. Rain fell and filled the hole with water and form a lake known as Toba Lake.
Legend of Prambanan Temple
The legend of Prambanan Temple is another popular folk story tell from generation to generation. The story tells about Bandung Bondowoso who intended to marry a beautiful woman named Roro Jonggrang. The woman wanted to refuse but did not tell straightforwardly, instead; she told the man to make 1000 temples in one night.
Bandung Bondowoso who had friends from spirits attempted to grant the request. Roro Jonggrang knew that the man would manage the request. She made a plan and asked other women to make a sound from alu (pestle) and lumpang (mortar) and woke up the rooster. The rooster crowed and the spirits vanished in a second.
There is one more temple to 1000. Bandung Bondowoso was furious and cursed Roro Jonggrang into a statue to complete the 1000th.
Talking about culture Indonesia never comes to an end. The country is bestowed with mesmerizing nature and diversity that makes it rich in cultures and customs. Indonesians who uphold their local wisdom and cultural diversity is a key to the greatness of this country.