Interactions, Tensions, and Performing Arts at the Lingsar Temple Festival
David D. Harnish
The temple and festival at Lingsar in Lombok are historic sites for connecting with the divine, constructing identity and renewing the relationships between Muslim Sasak and Hindu Balinese. The temple land contains the most abundant water springs in Lombok, strongly associated with fertility, divine power, the mountains, and rulership. Both Sasak and Balinese generate legends that privilege themselves over the other party and use the performing arts to express their ethnicity, identity and narrative of water-spring discovery. Islamic and Hindu reformist organisations have been altering performance styles and programmes in an attempt to shape the modern realisation and interpretation of this very old institution. This chapter analyses the changing agents, arts and developments at the festival over a 20-year period to explore shifting interreligious relationships and locate religious trajectories. With changes of cultural identity come changes in the performing arts, which generate identity narratives and the event’s cosmological statements.
After the fall of the New Order regime in 1998 with its legally fixed discrimination of the Chinese, the “ethnic Chinese,” or Tionghoa, have started to vigorously revitalise their culture and also to display it in public. In Bali, as elsewhere in Indonesia, the Chinese have had a long history as subandar or trade masters who managed maritime trade on behalf of Hindu-Balinese kings. Today, many Balinese temples still display shrines for the worship of these important ancestral office holders called Ratu Subandar. In the wake of the revival of their cultural life, the Chinese have started to perform elaborate rituals and ceremonies, such as the Chinese dragon dance, in front of Ratu Subandar shrines. This chapter traces the transformation of the ethnic Chinese in Bali, who have built up networks with religious communities in many Asian countries from where they now import elements of “Chineseness” in varied ways.
Islamic saint veneration is a common practice in Java, where the graves of saints such as the Wali Songo (Nine Saints) credited for Islamizing Java, are visited by pilgrims paying tribute and requesting blessings. This phenomenon of saint veneration has “travelled” to Bali as well, where it is still emerging, and is focussed on the Wali Pitu (Seven Saints), a variety of sainted individuals discovered and identified through dreams and visions. Exploring the lives of these Seven Saints and revealing how they were discovered and how their graves were transformed into sacred sites, this chapter examines how saint veneration is marketed by the state and private actors. Paying heed to these economic aspects as well as to claims regarding the Seven Saints’ ancestry, the chapter further analyses the position this new cult of Islamic saint veneration occupies in Bali’s interreligious landscape.
Orthodox Islam vis-à-vis Religious Syncretism
Islam has a complicated history in Bayan, North Lombok. Visited centuries ago by one of the legendary Sufi Wali Songo evangelists, Bayan has become a site of dakwa missionary activities carried out by reformist religious figures, who seek to convert villagers to orthodox Islam. Bayan is a traditionalist village and the stronghold of the Wetu Telu, the nominal Muslims of Lombok who maintain adat, customary laws and rituals that placate ancestral and natural deities and socially bond communities together. While they declare themselves Muslim, these communities, now representing a small minority, follow few Islamic tenets and have used Islam – in the form of Arabic prayers – as a tool to sanctify and legitimise indigenous rituals in the modern world. This chapter explores the various agents, particularly the Muslim teacher/reformers called tuan guru, involved in dakwa, and the local responses that tend to preserve religious syncretism.
Eastern Bali contains plural communities with long histories of co-existence between Hindus and Muslims, who are descendants of settlers from Lombok. Formerly, members of these different communities within the same villages were barely distinguishable from each other in everyday life. Recently, however, Muslim women have started increasingly to wear the distinctive Muslim jilbab or headscarf. Interestingly, though the jilbab symbolises religious differentiation, there has been little local reaction to this development.
Based on the study of a district with three Muslim neighbourhoods, Pedersen analyses and theorises the nature of the area’s relatively peaceful co-existence between Hindus and Muslims. As Pedersen’s investigations show, keeping the peace involves economic interdependence and active inter-generational negotiation, with prominent roles by leaders and teachers in preventing and mediating conflict. Negotiations are an ongoing process to produce a reasonably peaceful coexistence. Even as some symbolic markers are accentuated, there are efforts also to keep boundaries permeable and compatible.
The dominant public discourse in Bali discusses Hindu/Muslim relations mainly by addressing recent Muslim migrant workers as being a threat to the integrity of the Hindu Balinese culture and, therefore, the tourist economy. This attitude also translates into legal reforms undertaken within the framework of decentralization, democratization and regional autonomy, e.g. in the form of special taxes and registration procedures for non-Balinese residents.
Historically mixed Hindu/Muslim communities seem to be rather a blind spot and this chapter explores how a long-standing Hindu/Muslim community negotiates and practices its village life under these conditions. Taking the concepts of national and cultural citizenship as a starting point, it shows how the recent national and regional configurations are locally negotiated and reconfigured, and thereby analyses local constructions and practices of Balinese majority/minority relationships.
The Balinese Christian minority has struggled to culturally identify themselves as “Balinese.” Beginning in the 1990s, kebalian (Balineseness) has been a marker of ethnic legitimacy in Bali. This notion has been and continues to be couched in a discourse of difference: the Hindu Balinese vis-à-vis the majority Muslim culture of Indonesia. Balinese Christians are thus left out of the picture.
This chapter explores the development of Protestantism in Bali and the gradual independence of the Bali Church from international Christian denominations. To further this goal, Balinese Christian leaders have enacted a policy of “contextualization” whereby Balinese models of architecture, liturgy, and performing arts are privileged. Further, the Balinese dance drama, sendratari, which usually presents excerpts from Hindu epic literature to mass audiences, has been appropriated for the presentation of Christian stories in the formation of a Christian Balineseness. Within this effort, Balinese Christians and Hindus interact, share, and renegotiate their relationship.
The Relationship between Hindu and Christian Balinese
I Nyoman Dhana
The topic of the harmony and peacefulness among Balinese people has become an integral aspect of the discourses about Bali which has been adapted by the Hindu Balinese as well. Such a discourse leaves out the Hindu Balinese’ relationships to various minorities, such as the Christian communities. The relationship between Hindu and Christian Balinese has never been “harmonious,” though recently the tensions between them have decreased. In contrast to other religious minorities, the Christian Balinese are predominantly people who converted fairly recently from Hinduism to Christianity. Thus, they share the same genealogical and cultural roots as their Hindu neighbours, but different religious affiliations have divided communities and even families. Christian Balinese are excluded from the rights and benefits their Hindu neighbours enjoy as full members of the desa pakraman (village). Nevertheless, the Christian minority has now apparently decided to live in “harmony” with their dominant counterparts – by complying with their rules.
Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and David D. Harnish
Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and David D. Harnish